- - Thursday, January 23, 2020

Hundreds of thousands of pro-life advocates — including an extraordinarily large number of students — are marching for life in Washington on Jan. 24 to defend the weakest and most vulnerable from deadly assault.

Tragically, since the U.S. Supreme Court in 1973 eviscerated legal protection for unborn children, more than 61 million babies have been dismembered or chemically aborted — a death toll that equates with the entire population of Italy.

Courageous women negatively impacted by their abortion decision — who are silent no more — continue to make clear that there are two victims in every abortion, both the mom and her infant daughter or son and that for women who have had abortions there is a way forward to healing and hope.

The passage of time hasn’t changed for them the fact that they regret their abortion and for all of us the fact that abortion is a serious, lethal violation of human rights, and that women and children deserve better, and that the demands of justice, generosity and compassion require that the right to life be guaranteed to everyone. 

The violence and inhumanity of abortion requires that we speak out, do more and rally throughout the year to defend the voiceless. 

The pro-life struggle is not only on the side of human rights, responsible medicine, compassion, justice and inclusion, but is on the right side of history as well. 

Someday, future generations will look back on the United States and wonder how and why such a seemingly enlightened society, so blessed and endowed with education, advanced science, information, wealth and opportunity could have systematically enabled the death of millions of children.  

Because of the empathy of the pro-life community, countless women and babies have been spared the violence of abortion and today live, love and thrive.

Unborn babies are society’s youngest patients. Today it is commonplace for doctors to diagnose and treat a myriad of illnesses and disabilities before birth, substantially improving outcomes in the life of a child.

With the help of ultrasound imaging, pro-life advocates have tirelessly struggled to ensure that unborn children are no longer invisible, trivialized, mocked, dehumanized and killed. 

Ultrasound is a window to the womb and the child who resides there.

Ultrasound helps to underscore the fact that birth is merely an event — albeit an important one — in the breathtaking continuum that spans a lifetime.  

So many Americans today proudly share first baby photos not taken at birth but from ultrasound scans of the child.

Yet, the struggle to protect the unborn — recognized by so many as right and honorable and good — is under an unprecedented attack by abortion activists.

Federal legislation cosponsored by 190 more than embers of Congress to rescue children born alive during later-term abortions has been denied even a vote in the House of Representatives. Some states have acted to embed anti-child extremism into state law that makes it legal to slaughter a newborn child.

Federal legislation cosponsored by more than 170 members of Congress to protect unborn children from the pain and agony of dismemberment at 20 weeks gestation remains bottled up in the Judiciary Committee.

Those marching Friday — and tens of millions of other Americans — who want the carnage and pain to stop should nevertheless be encouraged. 

There has been progress. 

In just three years, several executive orders and actions have been promulgated by the Trump administration to protect life — including Title X reform and the Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance (PLGHA) — and the courts appear to be seriously trending in the right direction.  

In his Proclamation on National Sanctity of Human Life Day, President Trump acknowledged the declines in the most recent abortion rate and in abortion numbers.

What does that mean? According to the National Right to Life Committee, “in the 1980s about one in three pregnancies ended in abortion, current data puts that at just under one in five pregnancies. This is still too many, but a marked and dramatic improvement.”

Under President Obama, abortion was aggressively promoted at home and in our foreign aid programs. Even bipartisan conscience protection laws were shamelessly non-enforced.

Now, the Trump administration is robustly enforcing America’s conscience laws including the Weldon Amendment to ensure that no heath care professional and no organization or entity is forced or coerced into paying for or participating in the killing of an unborn child.

The March for Life — and the selfless pro-lifers who daily struggle for justice — will be remembered as an amazing outpouring of love and compassion for the “least of these” — a group of children who by reason of their age, sex, condition of dependency and disability cannot defend themselves. 

• Chris Smith is a Republican congressman from New Jersey. 

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