Ronald Reagan has been called the Great Communicator.

On several occasions, he applied his common-sense speaking style to the problem of abortion.

Speaking to religious journalists, Sept. 14, 1982:

“If you cannot determine when life begins, then doesn't simple morality dictate that you opt for the fact that it is alive until and unless someone can prove it dead? If we came upon a body in the street that was unconscious and we weren't sure whether it was unconscious or dead, we wouldn't say, ‘Let's bury it.’ We'd wait until someone assured us that it wasn't alive. And I think the same thing goes of the unborn child. I happen to believe the unborn child is a living human being.”

Proclamation of National Sanctity of Human Life Day, Jan. 22, 1984:

“Slavery, which treated blacks as something less than human, to be bought and sold if convenient, cheapened human life and mocked our dedication to the freedom and equality of all men and women. Can we say that abortion — which treats the unborn as something less than human, to be destroyed if convenient — will be less corrosive to the values we hold dear?”

“Evil Empire” speech to the National Association of Evangelicals, March 8, 1983:

“While America's military strength is important, let me add here that I've always maintained that the struggle now going on for the world will never be decided by bombs or rockets, by armies or military might. The real crisis we face today is a spiritual one; at root, it is a test of moral will and faith. … More than a decade ago, a Supreme Court decision literally wiped off the books of 50 states statutes protecting the rights of unborn children. Abortion on demand now takes the lives of up to 1.5 million unborn children a year. Human-life legislation ending this tragedy will someday pass the Congress, and you and I must never rest until it does.”

To women Christian leaders, Oct. 13, 1983:

“Either the law protects human beings or it doesn't. When we're dealing with a handicapped child — say, a mentally retarded baby girl who needs medical care to survive — is she not entitled to the protection of the law? Will she be denied her chance for love and life because someone decides she's too weak to warrant our help or because someone has taken it upon himself to decide the quality of her life doesn't justify keeping her alive? Is that not God's decision to make? And isn't it our duty to serve even the least of these, for, in so doing, we serve him?

“Our administration has tried to make sure the handicapped receive the respect of the law for the dignity of their lives. And the same holds true, I believe deeply, for the unborn. It may not help me in some polls to say this publicly, but until and unless it can be proven that the unborn child is not a living human being — and I don't think it can be proven — then we must protect the right of the unborn to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

Proclamation of National Sanctity of Human Life Day, January 1987:

“In 1973, America's unborn children lost their legal protection. In the 14 years since then, some 20 million unborn babies, 1.5 million each year, have lost their lives by abortion — in a nation of 242 million people. … Abortion kills unborn babies and denies them forever their rights to ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.’ Our Declaration of Independence holds that governments are instituted among men to secure these rights, and our Constitution — founded on these principles — should not be read to sanction the taking of innocent human life. … Our heritage as Americans bids us to respect and to defend the sanctity of human life.”

Proclamation of National Sanctity of Human Life Day, January 1988:

“We are told that we may not interfere with abortion. We are told that we may not ‘impose our morality’ on those who wish to allow or participate in the taking of the life of infants before birth; yet no one calls it ‘imposing morality’ to prohibit the taking of life after people are born.

“We are told as well that there exists a ‘right’ to end the lives of unborn children; yet no one can explain how such a right can exist in stark contradiction of each person's fundamental right to life. That right to life belongs equally to babies in the womb, babies born handicapped and the elderly or infirm. That we have killed the unborn for 15 years does not nullify this right, nor could any number of killings ever do so.”

Compiled by Joseph A. D'Agostino in Washington, D.C.