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If only Britain’s leaders had the same moral courage as Ronald Reagan

The US leader, dismissed initially as a B-grade movie star, was a great pro-life president

By on Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Ronald Reagan and his wife meet John Paul II at the Vatican in 1982 (AP Photo)

Ronald Reagan and his wife meet John Paul II at the Vatican in 1982 (AP Photo)

This morning our small group did our monthly, hour-long, pro-life prayer vigil outside Stoke Mandeville hospital. We prayed the Rosary, recited the pro-life Litany and sang hymns. When I got home I saw the newsletter of the Australian pro-life movement on the mat. Inside it was a section entitled, “Remembering Reagan”, with a list of some of his sayings, including:

“Socialism only works in two places: heaven where they don’t need it and hell where they already have it.”

“Here’s my strategy on the Cold War: we win, they lose.”

“No arsenal, or no weapon in the arsenals of the world, is as formidable as the will and moral courage of free men and women.”

“If we ever forget that we’re one nation under GOD, then we will be a nation gone under.”

They reminded me of what a great statesman and leader of the free world Ronald Reagan was. When he was elected president the media and the liberal intelligentsia dismissed him as a B-grade movie star. How wrong they were.

Reagan was also a great pro-life president, making his successors seem dwarfs by comparison.

He wrote a book, Abortion and the Conscience of the Nation, challenging the US to re-examine the 1973 Supreme Court decision to legalise abortion.

He halted federal aid to private groups promoting abortions abroad.

His administration cut off funding to the UN Fund for Population Activities because of its links to China’s mandatory abortion policy.

His administration enacted laws protecting the right to life of disabled newborn babies.

He designated a National Sanctity of Human Life Day.

He introduced the issue of foetal pain into public debate over abortion.

He blocked the use of federal money for research using the tissue of aborted babies.

Reagan had the will and moral courage to do what he believed to be right, without looking over his shoulder to check if it would bring or lose him votes. If only our political leaders in the UK could follow his example. Commenting on the royal wedding in the Daily Telegraph, Charles Moore described the occasion as an example of the “high civilization” of the UK, evidenced by the peaceable crowds, the discreet policing and the solemn pageantry. It was indeed a wonderful event and I enjoyed watching it as much as anyone; but when I think of the fine example Reagan set his fellow Americans and our own woeful legislative lack of will to protect the unborn in this country, I cannot agree that we are a “high civilisation”.

  • ms catholic state

    Our leaders don’t do anything like Ronald Regan did…..because they simply don’t believe in them. They believe in abortion and every thing else on the post-Christian wish list. The post-Christian era is complete. We have been completely de-Christianised….and such things don’t figure anymore.

  • Philip

    Francis – well worth watching this speech: 30 minutes, Reagan’s own thoughts back in 1964. Many of the issues he raised only came onto other people’s political radar in very recent years: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qXBswFfh6AY

  • Sean

    When the Symbionese Liberation Army kidnapped Patty Hearst in Berkeley and demanded the distribution of food to the poor, Reagan joked, “It’s just too bad we can’t have an epidemic of botulism.”
    What a great sense of humour he had.
    I consider myself pro-life because I believe only God should decide our fate. His campaign to strengthen California’s death penalty legislation does not make him in my eyes pro-life just anti-abortion.
    I do applaud what he did in regards to abortion but this is one issue stacked up against many great injustices he committed. How about the 11,345 air traffic controllers he had sacked because they dared to go out on strike.
    People go on about his fight against communism but its a pity he did not put as much effort into opposing right wing dictatorships.

  • Doug Patti

    This is why we refere to Reagan as ‘Ronaldus Maximus’ in the United States.

  • Anonymous

    Jimmy Carter, Regan’s preprocessor, would have been a much better example of a morally courageous President. I’m afraid Regan did much more harm than good.

    Regan was not interested in restricting the excesses of US capitalism. Under his watch the poorer got much poorer and the rich much richer. This is in stark contrast to what Jesus taught – Christ was committed to compassion for the most destitute, poor, needy, and forgotten people in our society – whilst Regan ruthlessly cut programmes to help such people.

    Under his watch thousands of uninsured Americans continued to die each year (including totally innocent children), because of lack of healthcare.

    Certainly not following Jesus’s message in Matthew 25:31-46.

  • Anonymous

    I’ll concede that when he spoke on the sanctity of human life in the womb – his comments and actions were inspirational and revealing a heartfelt recognition of the diabolical nature of the genocide.

    BUT – This is Reagan!
    Human life in other regards was of a much lesser concern.

    If his pro-Life message in word and deed regarding the Unborn can be utilised evangelically – let that be his legacy.

  • SS1

    If you withdraw your labour from your employer you run the risk of losing your job. Strikers bank on strength of numbers being enough to deter their employer from firing them. Reagan called the air traffic controllers’ bluff.

  • Anonymous

    Ironic that he originally was a prominent union man, and spoke well on the issue of workers-rights and the right for collective bargaining.

    We blame politicians for lack of charisma, but I for one, think that politicians that don’t have the great power of oratory are much better. Regan was convincing in whatever he was talking about – whether it was earlier in his career speaking up for workers-rights, or later in announcing the sacking of the air traffic controllers.

    Oratory is a danger to politics and an honest democracy; it gets us emotionally involved – but not tuned in and listening to the substance of the argument. I’ll take Brown and Prescott any-day over Blair and Mandelson.

    But, being a straight talker doesn’t usually win elections unfortunately!

  • Anonymous

    Yes, obviously. But simply because workers know the potential consequences, and that Regan played a smart game – does not mean what Regan did was morally correct.

  • Anonymous

    Social justice, helping the poor, improving education for our children, collectively providing – and continuing to provide healthcare for all citizens of the UK, lowest rates of crime since 1981, highest rates of private charity donations in years,

    There are lots of great improvements in society – that are totally Christian in their morality

  • Anonymous

    Speaks out against government healthcare i.e. NHS

  • Anonymous

    Under Regan’s watch unemployment was as high as 10% as American jobs started to go abroad. Yet Regan despite calling himself a Catholic did not help the many thousands that died due to lack of health insurance.

    Dying, poor, lonely and humiliated no doubt; if you are out of work you cannot pay for health coverage, and if you are ill you cannot work.

    That is why the vast majority of Brits, despite some complaints, are behind the principle of the NHS, that of all things being and staying alive is a right, and we don’t want to live in a society were some are denied that right.

    Regan did not recognise this right, and somehow he – a Christian; and almost every other Republican running for office at any level; believe that the level of medical care you can receive is directly related to your personal wealth.

    Ask yourself, is the premise of the NHS moral? Ask yourself is it fair that everyone contributes to a healthcare system we can rely upon for all – regardless of ability to pay at the time?

    Regan disagrees with you, and spoke out – and propagandised against any system of healthcare like the NHS reaching the US. For this, and thousands of unfortunate and uninsured (including ENTIRELY innocent children) that died early as a result.

    For this Regan can be called anti-abortion – but he cannot be called ‘pro-life’, I only hope God forgives him and every other Republican that was ok with letting sick men, women and children die.

    Hate Obama on abortion if you will, but please give him some credit on being the first president to getting healthcare for the majority of all Americans.

    Regan speaking about the problems with NHS and such systems ‘socialized-medicine’