President Obama went on national TV in mid-September to defend his call for military action against the regime of Bashar Assad in Syria — a man many believe used chemical weapons on his own people Aug. 21 in a suburb of Damascus.

In that prime-time speech, President Obama used the word “children” seven times. They were “gassed to death”; they were “lying in rows.” They were “writhing in pain.” He described a father “clutching his dead children, imploring them to get up and walk.” Seven times President Obama tugged on the nation’s heartstrings, asking Americans to think of the children and conclude with him that such a violent attack on the most innocent souls among us was unacceptable to the point of military action. Anyone who watched the footage coming out of Syria on that day saw the gasping breaths of children and the small bodies lying on the floor. The images are tragic, and no one could say otherwise.

But, as many pro-life groups have pointed out, the president’s words stand in stark juxtaposition with his strong pro-abortion position in the abortion debate. For some reason, pro-abortion Americans can’t make the connection that the 1.21 million victims of abortion each year are the same innocent souls as those lying on the hospital floor in Syria. As with our president, our nation’s concern for the children of Syria, yet seeming indifference to those lives in utero claimed through abortion, continues to be nothing short of baffling. It’s a “truth” almost ingrained in the post-Roe v. Wade generation: We determine that this life has value but that one does not. Whether or not a child will be aborted or carried to term is the mother’s choice and hers alone. The law says so. Society says so. The unborn child is at the mercy of a radically subjective judgment that determines life or death.

The irony of this situation became clear in the recent case of 26-year-old Remee Lee, who was tricked into aborting her baby by her boyfriend, John Andrew Welden. Welden told Lee that he was providing her with antibiotics to treat an infection, but instead had given her abortion-inducing drugs — an action we will see more and more of now that abortion-inducing drugs are available over the counter and without a prescription. Under the federal Unborn Victims of Violence Act, Welden was indicted and could serve at least 13 years in prison. Had Lee chosen to abort the child herself, however, the incident would have become just another acceptable statistic.

Another recent story in the Seattle Times said that 10,000 embryos a year are thawed to become newborn sons and daughters. Approximately 500,000, however, are left on ice: human lives frozen in time waiting for someone to decide they have worth.

Until we can agree that each life is precious, that each life has value — from the moment of conception until the moment of natural death — this world will continue to operate nonsensically.

In the wake of the Sept. 16 shooting at the Navy Yard in Washington, D.C., Archbishop Timothy Broglio of the Archdiocese for the Military Services expressed his sadness for the 12 lives lost and called for our country to become more aware of the preciousness of each life.

“When the uniqueness of the human person created in the image and likeness of God is universally recognized, the possibility of a mass shooting is more remote,” he said. “Somehow we must restore the notion of respect for life into the fabric of the nation.”

Editorial Board: Greg Erlandson, publisher; Msgr. Owen F. Campion, associate publisher; Beth McNamara, editorial director; Gretchen R. Crowe, editor; Sarah Hayes, executive editor.