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American Values and the Right to Life


A speech by Don Feder, for the March for Life Rally on the Boston Common, June 28, 2015

I want to thank Mass Citizens for Life for giving me the opportunity to address you today.

There’s a very special birthday coming up. On Saturday, America will be 239 years old.

Americans have always thought of their country as unique – more than just a place on a map, but a place with existential meaning.

But what does America mean? In light of the Supreme Court’s latest mangling of the Constitution last week – along with a “right” to abortion in the 1st Amendment, there’s now a “right” of same-sex marriage in the 14th. – the question becomes more relevant than ever.

Most people think the essence of Americanism is freedom. In his Gettysburg’s Address, Abraham Lincoln said we were “conceived in liberty.”

Now, I don’t want to downplay the importance of freedom. Without it, we are slaves without chains.

However, while necessary, liberty alone isn’t sufficient.

The Declaration of Independence says that men are created equal and “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

The Founding Fathers understood that rights come from God, not governments or judges. Governments are created to protect rights, which precede them. The Declaration starts with the right to life, because without life no other rights are possible. Then comes liberty – the ability to shape our destiny.

But is that all there is? Do bravery, decency and charity play no part in our heritage?

John Adams bluntly declared: “Our Constitution was made for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” Our form of government – a constitutional republic – is premised on religion and morality.

In the words of our National Anthem: “Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just. And this be our motto, in God is our trust.”

In his Second Inaugural Address, Abraham Lincoln pledged to bind up the wounds of the Civil War, “With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right.” Justice, charity and faith are also American ideals.

These values are woven together in the song “America The Beautiful.” The lyrics were written in 1897 by Katherine Lee Bates, an English Professor at Wellesly College. The third stanza goes:

O beautiful for heroes proved
In liberating strife. Who more than self the country loved
And mercy more than life.
America! America!
May God thy gold refine
Till all success be nobleness
And every gain divine!

And another verse: “God mend thine every flaw. Confirm thy soul in self-control, thy liberty in law.” It’s law that makes liberty possible.

Ladies and gentlemen, you of the right to life movement reflect our highest values. You are the heroes proved in liberating strife. You are sacrificing in a just cause.

And you exemplify compassion (mercy) – compassion for the unborn, the terminally ill and others threatened by euthanasia.

“Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just. And this be our motto: In God is our trust. And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave, O’re the land of the free and the home of the brave”

Thank you. God bless you. And God bless America.

First published at


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