Boehner: Being Pro-Life Is 'Who I Am'

Susan Walsh/AP Photo

House Speaker John Boehner said today at the 39th annual March for Life rally on the National Mall that he does not consider his opposition to abortion rights to be a political issue: "It's just who I am."

Boehner made the remarks to a crowd of thousands braving a wintery-mix of sleet and rain in Washington to mark the anniversary of the Supreme Court's 1973 landmark Roe v. Wade decision.

"I've never considered 'pro-life' to be a label or a position.  It's just who I am," the Ohio Republican said. "It's who I am, and it's who we are as a people."

The speaker told the crowd that Congress is "heeding the voice of the people, who overwhelmingly oppose taxpayer funding of abortion."

"We may disagree in other areas, sometimes starkly, but we are one and the same on this, because human life is not a political or economic commodity and defending life is not a matter of party. It's about standing on principle," Boehner said. "With your help, this bipartisan majority is standing up for life and working to restore the damage of Roe v. Wade."

Boehner touched on his parents' "respect for life," telling the audience he comes from "what you might call a big family" with 11 brothers and sisters.

"It wasn't easy for my mother to have 12 children, but I'm sure glad she did," he said. "Respect for life, at every stage, was instilled in us early on."

Boehner said he was honored to serve as speaker "with men and women committed to protecting the sanctity of life." Last year, the House passed the " No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act," which codified the Hyde Amendment across all federal programs, but the Democratic-controlled Senate has yet to vote on the measure.

"A ban on taxpayer funding of abortions is the will of the people, and it ought to be the will of the land," Boehner said one year ago.

Today, Boehner called on the demonstrators to "raise our voices together in defense of life" and he said that he prays more Americans - regardless of political party - "will join this noble cause."

"When we affirm the dignity of life, we affirm our commitment to freedom," Boehner said. "When we don't affirm life, when life is cheapened or weakened, here or abroad, freedom itself is diminished."