“From personal and religious beliefs I consider abortions an unacceptable form of population control. Further, unrestricted abortion policies, or abortion on demand, I cannot square with my personal belief in the sanctity of human life—including the life of the yet unborn. For, surely, the unborn have rights also, recognized in law, recognized even in principles expounded by the United Nations.”
San Clemente, April 3, 1971
Mr. Asslick: Sir, as regards your San Clemente statement of April 3, most of the discussion it provoked seems by now to have centered on your unequivocal declaration that you are a firm believer in the rights of the unborn. Many seem to believe that you are destined to be to the unborn what Martin Luther King was to the black people of America, and the late Robert F. Kennedy to the disadvantaged chicanos and Puerto Ricans of the country. There are those who say that your San Clemente statement will go down in the history books alongside Dr. King’s famous “I have a dream” address. Do you find these comparisons apt?
Our Leader: Well, of course, Mr. Asslick, Martin Luther King was a very great man, as we all must surely recognize now that he is dead. He was a great leader in the struggle for equal rights for his people, and yes, I do believe he’ll find a place in history. But of course we must not forget he was not the President of the United States, as I am, empowered by the Constitution, as I am; and this is an important distinction to bear in mind. Working within the Constitution I think I will be able to accomplish far more for the unborn of this entire nation than did Dr. King working outside the Constitution for the born of a single race. This is meant to be no criticism of Dr. King, but just a simple statement of fact.
Now, of course I am well aware that Dr. King died a martyr’s tragic death—so let me then make one thing very clear to my enemies and the enemies of the unborn: let there be no mistake about it, what they did to Martin Luther King, what they did to Robert F. Kennedy and to John F. Kennedy before him, great Americans all, is not for a moment going to scare me from the immense struggle that lies ahead. I will not be intimidated by extremists or militants or violent fanatics from bringing justice and equality to those who live in the womb.
And let me make one thing more perfectly clear: I am not just talking about the rights of the fetus. I am talking about the microscopic embryos as well. If ever there was a group in this country that was “disadvantaged,” in the sense that they are utterly without representation or a voice in our national government, it is not the blacks or the Puerto Ricans or the hippies or what-have-you, all of …
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