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I am writing this on the twenty-fifth anniversary of President Ronald Reagan’s release of the “Personhood Proclamation.” On January 14, 1988, Reagan released the following declaration: “America has given a great gift to the world, a gift that drew upon the accumulated wisdom derived from centuries of experiments in self-government, a gift that has irrevocably changed humanity’s future. Our gift is twofold: the declaration, as a cardinal principle of all just law, of the God-given, unalienable rights possessed by every human being; and the example of our determination to secure those rights and to defend them against every challenge through the generations. . . .

“One of those unalienable rights, as the Declaration of Independence affirms so eloquently, is the right to life. In the 15 years since the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade, however, America’s unborn have been denied their right to life. Among the tragic and unspeakable results in the past decade and a half have been the loss of life of 22 million infants before birth; the pressure and anguish of countless women and girls who are driven to abortion; and a cheapening of our respect for the human person and the sanctity of human life. . . .

“That right to life belongs equally to babies in the womb, babies born handicapped, and the elderly or infirm. That we have killed the unborn for 15 years does not nullify this right, nor could any number of killings ever do so. . . . Our nation cannot continue down the path of abortion, so radically at odds with our history, our heritage, and our concepts of justice. This sacred legacy, and the well-being and the future of our country, demand that protection of the innocents must be guaranteed and that the personhood of the unborn be declared and defended throughout our land. . . .”

President Reagan’s words are sobering, particularly as we consider how much more they are needed today than in 1988. In America and throughout the world, the church of Jesus Christ must rise up to defend the rights of all individuals—children in the womb and abused children outside the womb, kidnapped girls forced into sex trafficking, men captured and sold into slavery, and the aged, infirm, or unwanted murdered through euthanasia and genocide. Our triune God is the Almighty Creator and Sustainer of life, He has bestowed dignity on every person, and He alone has defined personhood. The barbaric murder, abuse, and slavery of our fellow human beings ought to bring us to tears, to our knees in prayer, and to action in behalf of the least of these as we preach the gospel to the nations and fight for the life and freedom of all individuals so that they might live and hear the gospel of eternal life.

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