Roe v. Wade v. Suarez

Profoundly religious Miami Mayor Xavier Suarez intends to declare today, January 22, "Sanctity of Human Life Day" in the City of Miami.

"It was 25 years ago that Roe v. Wade was passed," explains Josue Morales, a minister at Little Havana's House of Praise and the mayor's liaison with the religious community. "On that anniversary we want to declare in Miami 'Sanctity of Human Life Day,' honoring life instead of abortion. The mayor is pro-life."

On January 22, 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down laws that prohibited or restricted abortion in all 50 states. The decision has been assailed ever since by anti-abortion groups, including the Dade County Christian Coalition, which requested the proclamation.

"It doesn't in any way try to stop abortion in Miami," Morales clarifies. "It doesn't in any way try to start new legislation. We're basically glorifying life above everything else. The mayor is taking the lead role in this. As far as I know, it will be the first time and the first city to declare such a day in the United States."

That may not be precisely true. The mayor of Melbourne, Florida, recently issued a proclamation calling for a month of fasting and prayer as a protest against abortion. And in 1984 the conservative mayor of Oakland Park, Florida, proclaimed January 23 "Right to Life Day." His commission later passed a resolution condemning abortion as "child abuse in its most gross form."

Morales says that Suarez's new proclamation is different. "They did it on the 23rd. We're doing it on the exact day of the Roe v. Wade decision, on the 22nd. And that was 'Right to Life Day.' This is 'Sanctity of Human Life Day.' This is all life, not just abortion, although that is our number-one goal. It also represents murder, rape, whatever it may be."

Despite the broad scope of the proclamation, Howard Simon, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida, dwells on the anti-abortion emphasis. "I think a lot of unfair things have been said and written recently about our mayor," Simon said last week from his Miami office. "I think there's probably a perfectly reasonable explanation for this -- after all, he's a Harvard Law School graduate. The only thing I can think of, though, is that he slept through the classes that dealt with the Bill of Rights and the Fourteenth Amendment.


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