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Presidential proclamation designates Jan. 19 for Sanctity of Human Life

WASHINGTON (BP)–President Bush has proclaimed Jan. 19 as National Sanctity of Human Life Day for this year.

In commemorating the Sunday before the 30th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s legalization of abortion, Bush repeated his belief that every child “should be welcomed in life and protected by law.” The high court issued its Roe v. Wade opinion, which struck down state prohibitions on abortion, on Jan. 22, 1973. More than 40 million legal abortions have occurred in the last three decades.

The Southern Baptist Convention, as well as other pro-life organizations, will observe Jan. 19 as Sanctity of Human Life Sunday.

In his proclamation, Bush said the country would “continue to build a culture that respects life” through “ethical policies and the compassion of Americans.”

“By working together to protect the weak, the imperfect and the unwanted, we affirm a culture of hope and help ensure a brighter future for all,” Bush said.

His administration “has championed compassionate alternatives to abortion, such as helping women in crisis through maternity group homes, encouraging adoption, promoting abstinence education and passing laws requiring parental notification and waiting periods for minors,” Bush said.

The president cited the Born-alive Infants Protection Act, which he signed into law in August, as an important part of the effort to protect life. The measure clarified that a newborn child fully outside his mother’s womb is a person to be protected under federal law. The legislation especially targeted an abortion method in which newborns who survive are allowed to die.

The president’s proclamation came after the release of survey results that showed the country’s abortion rate declined by 5 percent from 1996 to 2000. The Alan Guttmacher Institute, which is affiliated with the abortion-rights movement, reported the rate in 2000 was 21.3 abortions per 1,000 women age 15 to 44, the lowest figure since 1974. The rate’s highest point came in 1980 and 1981 at 29.3, according to the institute.

In 2000, there were 1.31 million abortions, contrasted with a high of 1.61 million in 1990, AGI reported. The institute said its data was based on a survey of all known U.S. abortion providers.

Pro-life advocates hope Bush will be given the opportunity to sign the following bills into law in this congressional session:

— Partial-birth Abortion Ban Act, which would prohibit the killing of a nearly totally delivered child, normally in the fifth or sixth month of pregnancy.

— Human Cloning Prohibition Act, which would bar cloning for both reproductive and research purposes.

— Child Custody Protection Act, which would make it a federal offense for a person to transport a minor across state lines for an abortion when the state in which the girl lives requires either parental notification or consent before such a procedure.

— Unborn Victims of Violence Act, which would recognize an unborn baby as a crime victim when injured or slain during a federal offense against his mother.

— Abortion Non-discrimination Act, which would clarify that federal law protects the consciences of medical students and doctors who are opposed to providing abortions and healthcare entities that do not want to offer abortion services.

The House of Representatives is expected to approve all the proposals, but resistance remains in the Senate with its slim Republican majority.