January 22, 1985

The President. Hello, Nellie, am I speaking to you?

Ms. Gray. Yes, Mr. President, you're speaking to me. And you're speaking to thousands of your pro-life Americans, who are here to tell you that we appreciate your being in the White House so very, very much.

The PresidentWell, thank you. And thank all of the participants in this 1985 March for Life for coming here and demonstrating your overwhelming support for the right to life of the unborn.

I feel a great sense of solidarity with all of you. And I'm convinced, as I know you are, that our response to the 12th anniversary of Roe vs. Wade and Doe vs. Bolton must be to rededicate ourselves to ending the terrible national tragedy of abortion.

A year ago, in my State of the Union Address, I called on everyone in our country to rise above bitterness and reproach and seek a greater understanding of this issue. I believe that spirit of understanding begins with the recognition of the reality of life before birth and the reality of death by abortion.

But the spirit of understanding also includes, as all of you know, a complete rejection of violence as a means of settling this issue. We cannot condone the threatening or taking of human life to protest the taking of human life by way of abortion.

And I want you to know that I feel these days, as never before, the momentum is with us. Surely, recent advances in medical technology have changed the debate. Surgeons now speak of the ``patient in the womb.'' We now know more than ever before about the unborn. Doctors have invented procedures that can give blood transfusions to the fetus and even administer medication. For the first time, through the new technique of real-time ultrasound imaging, we're able to see with our own eyes, on film, the abortion of a 12-week-old unborn child.

The film -- which, as you know, I'm sure, is narrated by a former director of the world's largest abortion clinic -- provides chilling documentation of the horror of abortion during the first 3 months of life. It's been said that if every Member of the Congress could see this film of an early abortion, the Congress would move quickly to end the tragedy of abortion. And I pray that they will.

I will continue to work with all of those -- in the Congress and out -- who believe, as I do, that abortion is taking the life of a living human being; that the right to abortion is not secured by the Constitution; and the state has a compelling interest in protecting the life of each person before birth.

I've spoken here of the evidence today that establishes that the unborn is a living human being. We must not forget that in reality, if there is any justice in the abortionist position, it would require that they establish beyond a doubt that there is not life in the unborn -- and they can't do that.

It's been a long, hard struggle the past dozen years. But I know all of us are feeling hopeful about a positive resolution of this issue, and I don't think our feeling of hope is inappropriate. There are already signs that we've changed the public attitude on abortion. The number performed each year is finally leveling off. The general feeling that abortion is just a small, harmless medical procedure that's simply a matter of choice has almost disappeared.

We're making a lot of progress, and partly because a dozen years ago people like yourselves who were told that banning abortion was a losing battle said, ``Fine, that's the only kind of battle worth fighting.''

God bless you for your courage and commitment, and thank you for your wonderful work. And I'm proud to stand with you in the long march for the right to life.

Ms. Gray. Mr. President?

The President. Yes, Nellie.

Ms. Gray. Mr. President, before you leave us, you know, many times we have been in the White House and you have said to us that we must come together. And I want you to know that we have had, maybe, some of our differences before. But now this grassroots, pro-life, American, whole movement is united. We want the paramount human life amendment with no compromises, Mr. President.

The President. Good for you, and I support you.*

Ms. Gray. And, Mr. President, we want to work with you this year because we know that there are some things that we can do right now. One is, we can stop the funding of abortions in the District of Columbia, and we, as pro-life Americans, want to work with you to get that bill through. There are things that we can do, and we want to work with you.

And before you leave us, we just want to give you a resounding ``Thank you, Mr. President'' from all of us here who are standing with you.

Goodbye, Mr. President.

The President.. Goodbye, and thank you.

Ms. Gray. God bless you, Mr. President.

The President. Thank you very much, Nellie, and thank everyone.

*On the same day, the Principal Deputy Press Secretary to the President issued a statement that read: ``There is no change in the President's position on abortion. He believes that abortion should be prohibited except when the life of the mother is endangered.''

Note: The President spoke at 12:01 p.m. from the Oval Office via a loudspeaker hookup with the rally site. Participants had gathered on the Ellipse for a march to the Supreme Court on the occasion of the 12th anniversary of the Supreme Court's decision on the abortion issue. Nellie Gray was president of March for Life.