National Sanctity of Human Life Day

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National Sanctity of Human Life Day is an observance declared by several U.S. Presidents who opposed abortion.


President Ronald Reagan issued a presidential proclamation on January 16, 1984, designating Sunday, Jan 22, 1984 as National Sanctity of Human Life Day noting that it was the 11th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, in which, the Supreme Court issued a ruling that guaranteed women access to abortion.[1] President Reagan was a strong pro-life advocate who said that in Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court, "Struck down our laws protecting the lives of unborn children."[2]

Reagan issued the proclamation annually thereafter, designating Sanctity of Human Life Day to be the third Sunday in January, which represents the closest Sunday to the original January 22 date. His successor, George H. W. Bush, continued the annual proclamation throughout his presidency.[3] Bush's successor, Bill Clinton, discontinued the practice throughout his eight years in office, but Bush's son and Clinton's successor, George W. Bush, resumed the proclamation, and did so every year of his presidency.

The day is traditionally marked as a holy day by the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod as Sanctity of Human Life Sunday.


The proclamation of National Sanctity of Human Life Day has been heralded by National Right to Life as "a wonderful statement of what the pro-life movement is really all about". Reproductive freedom groups like NARAL and Planned Parenthood have denounced it, saying it signals a desire to roll back the rights of women.[4]

In an amicus brief filed by the National Lawyers Association in the case of Elk Grove Unified School District v. Newdow, National Sanctity of Human Life Day was cited as an instance of the executive branch acknowledging the theistic philosophy of the United States government.[5][3]

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