When House Speaker Nancy Pelosi boldly proclaimed this month that this would be a Congress that remembers the children, I couldn't help but think that this smart, savvy grandmother of six, who now wields the most powerful gavel in the world, was forgetting someone.
A whole lot of someones, for that matter.
At swearing-in, when Mrs. Pelosi invited the accompanying congressional kids to join her at the rostrum to "touch the gavel" as history was made, I smiled and thought what a gracious gesture and photo-op. And then I thought again of the forgotten girls and boys -- at last count more than 49 million of them -- killed by what is euphemistically called "choice." To be sure, born children need strong and stable families, better access to health care, educational opportunities, a clean environment to grow up in and freedom from violence and abuse.
The speaker is right, Congress should remember the children and strive to enhance the welfare and wellbeing of our young. No one is more precious than our children.
But it is equally valid and true that unborn children have inherent worth, value and dignity. They are children, too. They are not disposable commodities, nor are they junk. American jurisprudence -- and public officials in all three branches of government -- too often treat them that way. A Congress that remembers the children should strive to leave no child vulnerable, including the unborn.
In recent years, modern medicine and scientific breakthroughs have shattered the myth that unborn children are not human persons or alive. Birth is merely an event -- albeit an important one, but only an event -- in the life of a child.
Today, ultrasound technologies and other diagnostic tools have helped doctors to diagnose illness and disability before birth. New and exciting breakthrough health-care interventions for the unborn, including microsurgeries, are leading to an ever-expanding array of successful treatments and cures of sick or disabled unborn babies in need of help. Unborn children are society's littlest patients. This Congress should remember them as well.
In stark contrast, abortion methods rip, tear and dismember or chemically poison the fragile bodies of unborn children. There is nothing whatsoever benign, compassionate, or just about an act that utterly destroys the life of a baby and often physically, psychologically or emotionally harms the woman.
Abortion is a violation of fundamental human rights and should be treated as such. The right to life is for everyone, regardless of age, race, condition of dependency, disability, or stage of development. Congress has a duty to remember, and a duty to protect, everyone at risk -- not just the planned, the privileged and the perfect.
There is a new, powerful group of women called Silent No More who courageously speak of their personal abortion tragedies. They protest that abortion is neither a compassionate option nor a reasonable choice; rather it is an act of violence.
Women wounded by abortion -- like actress Jennifer O'Neill; singer Melba Moore; civil-rights activist Dr. Alveda King, niece of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.; and a co-founder of the National Silent No More Awareness Campaign, Georgette Forney -- have called on us to listen to their heart-wrenching stories and take seriously our moral duty to protect women and children from the predators who ply their lethal trade in abortion mills throughout the land. Dr. King has asked "How can the 'Dream' survive if we murder the children?" These brave wounded women are the new champions of life.
They have refused to be silent any longer. They care too deeply about other women and their children and they want others to be spared the anguish they have endured. And to the millions of women who have aborted, they are uniquely equipped to convey the breathtaking love, healing and reconciliation that God provides to those who ask.
More and more women are speaking up and proclaiming that "women deserve better than abortion," and I agree.
In one of Dr. Seuss's most memorable books for children and grandchildren, an elephant named Horton hears a small person -- "a who" -- crying for help and discovers a whole town of tiny persons living on a speck of dust called Who-ville. Horton cherishes and seeks to protect them. When an eagle steals the speck of dust, Horton pleads "please don't harm all my little folks, who have as much right to life as us bigger folks do."
Against all adversity and personal insult Horton painstakingly recovers Who-ville and begs the mayor to get all the little people to make a big noise so everyone will understand that they exist. They all yell and scream, but to no avail. No one but Horton hears them. However it is the voice of the smallest of the small that puts them over the top. Dr. Seuss writes, "Finally, at last their voices were heard!" They rang out clear and clean. And the elephant smiled and said "do you see what I mean? They proved they ARE persons, no matter how small and their whole world was saved by the smallest of all."
Mrs. Pelosi, unborn children are persons, no matter how small. They cry out for your -- our -- protection and safety, and to be remembered. On this one, we could all learn a lot from Dr. Seuss.
Rep. Chris Smith is a 14-term Republican from New Jersey