THE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you, Nellie [Gray, President of March for Life]. I want to thank you very much for including me in the celebration of life. I want to thank the good folks there on the Mall today. I'm calling you from St. Louis, Missouri.
I know there are some from Missouri there and, like many others, you've made great sacrifices to come to Washington today. A lot of you have ridden buses all night long and I know you're braving the cold. And I admire your perseverance and I admire your devotion to the cause of life.
You all are gathered today on the National Mall, which is not far from the monument to Thomas Jefferson who, as you all know, is author of our Declaration of Independence. And the March for Life upholds the self-evident truth of that Declaration -- that all are created equal, given the unalienable rights of life, and liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. And that principle of America needs defenders in every place and every generation.
In our time, respect for the right to life calls us to defend the sick and the dying, persons with disabilities and birth defects, and all who are weak and vulnerable. And this self-evident truth calls us to value and to protect the lives of innocent children waiting to be born.
You and I share a commitment to building a culture of life in America, and we're making progress. As the President, I have signed the Born Alive Infants Protection Act, opposed the destruction of embryos for stem cell research, and refused to spend taxpayer money on international programs that promote abortion overseas. (Applause.)
My administration is challenging the Oregon law that permits physician-assisted suicide. (Applause.) We support abstinence education, and crisis pregnancy programs, and parental notification laws. We offer compassionate alternatives to abortion by promoting adoption and extending state health care coverage for unborn children.
My hope is that the United States Congress will pass a bill this year banning partial-birth abortion, which I will sign. (Applause.) Partial-birth abortion is an abhorrent procedure that offends human dignity. I also urge the Congress to ban all human cloning. We must not create life to destroy life. Human beings are not research material to be used in a cruel and reckless experiment. (Applause.)
For 30 years, the March for Life has been sustained by constant prayer and abiding hope, that one day, every child will be born into a family that loves that child and a nation that protects that child. And when that day arrives, you will have the gratitude of millions -- especially those who know the gift of life because you cared and you kept faith. May God bless you all and may God continue to bless America.
MS. GRAY: Thank you, Mr. President.
PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH
January 22, 2003