National Sanctity of Human Life Day

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National Sanctity of Human Life Day is an observance declared by several United States Presidents who opposed abortion typically proclaimed on or near the anniversary of the Supreme Court's decision in Roe v. Wade.


President Ronald Reagan issued a presidential proclamation on January 13, 1984, designating Sunday, January 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 anti-abortion 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 closest Sunday to the original January 22 date.[3] His successor, George H. W. Bush, continued the annual proclamation throughout his presidency.[4] 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.[5]

At the end of the first year of his presidency, Donald Trump issued a proclamation declaring Monday, January 22, 2018 to be National Sanctity of Human Life Day;[6] however, the next year, his proclamation set it again to a Sunday, that being January 20, 2019.[7]

The day is observed in some churches as Sanctity of Human Life Sunday, including in some parishes of the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod.

According to the Proper Calendar[8] of the Catholic Church in the United States, as requested by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) and approved by the Holy See, 22 January (or the 23rd if the 22nd is a Sunday) is observed as the "Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children".


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.[9][4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Reagan, Ronald (January 13, 1984). "Proclamation 5147 -- National Sanctity of Human Life Day, 1984" – via Ronald Reagan Presidential Library & Museum.
  2. ^ "President Deplores Abortion; Proclaims a Human Life Day". The New York Times. January 17, 1986.
  3. ^ see: 1989 and 2006 when January 22 fell on a 4th Sunday as in the original 1984 date of the proclamation. Though it is usually the case, National Sanctity of Human Life Day is not simply "the 3rd Sunday in January"
  4. ^ a b "National Sanctity of Human Life Day -". April 6, 2015.
  5. ^ "Bush Names This Sunday 'Sanctity of Life' Day". Voice of America - English. Retrieved April 30, 2021.
  6. ^ "President Donald J. Trump Proclaims January 22, 2018, as National Sanctity of Human Life Day". – via National Archives.
  7. ^ "Presidential Proclamation on the National Sanctity of Human Life Day, 2019". – via National Archives.
  8. ^ "Proper Calendar for the Dioceses of the United States of America".
  9. ^ NLA Brief

External links[edit]