Ronald Reagan: Abortion and the Conscience of the Nation



image I had a commenter in a previous post point out (trying to compare Mitt Romney to Ronald Reagan) that President Ronald Reagan started out as a “pro-abortion liberal Democrat.”  He did start out as a Democrat, but was hardly liberal nor pro-abortion.  He did out of a desire to reduce backroom abortions signed into law the “Therapeutic Abortion Act” in 1967 just four months into his first term as Governor of California.

When he realized the consequences of that decision he declared that he was prolife, and said if he had more experience and thought out the consequences of that bill he would have never signed it.  From then on he was a champion for life and wrote extensively about it, and in 1983 wrote a book called Abortion and the Conscience of the Nation.  Some excerpts via Wikiquotes:

  • Make no mistake, abortion-on-demand is not a right granted by the Constitution. No serious scholar, including one disposed to agree with the Court’s result, has argued that the framers of the Constitution intended to create such a right.
  • The decision by the seven-man majority in Roe v. Wade has so far been made to stick. But the Court’s decision has by no means settled the debate. Instead, Roe v. Wade has become a continuing prod to the conscience of the nation.
  • We cannot diminish the value of one category of human life — the unborn — without diminishing the value of all human life.
  • If you don’t know whether a body is alive or dead, you would never bury it. I think this consideration itself should be enough for all of us to insist on protecting the unborn.
  • The real question today is not when human life begins, but, What is the value of human life?
  • The abortionist who reassembles the arms and legs of a tiny baby to make sure all its parts have been torn from its mother’s body can hardly doubt whether it is a human being.
  • Regrettably, we live at a time when some persons do not value all human life. They want to pick and choose which individuals have value.
  • As a nation, we must choose between the sanctity of life ethic and the "quality of life" ethic. I have no trouble identifying the answer our nation has always given to this basic question, and the answer that I hope and pray it will give in the future.
  • As a nation today, we have not rejected the sanctity of human life. The American people have not had an opportunity to express their view on the sanctity of human life in the unborn. I am convinced that Americans do not want to play God with the value of human life. It is not for us to decide who is worthy to live and who is not. Even the Supreme Court’s opinion in Roe v. Wade did not explicitly reject the traditional American idea of intrinsic worth and value in all human life; it simply dodged this issue.
  • We must all educate ourselves to the reality of the horrors taking place. Doctors today know that unborn children can feel a touch within the womb and that they respond to pain.
  • Late-term abortions, especially when the baby survives, but is then killed by starvation, neglect, or suffocation, show once again the link between abortion and infanticide. The time to stop both is now.
  • It is possible that the Supreme Court itself may overturn its abortion rulings. We need only recall that in Brown v. Board of Education the court reversed its own earlier "separate-but-equal" decision.
  • As we continue to work to overturn Roe v. Wade, we must also continue to lay the groundwork for a society in which abortion is not the accepted answer to unwanted pregnancy. Pro-life people have already taken heroic steps, often at great personal sacrifice, to provide for unwed mothers.
  • We will never recognize the true value of our own lives until we affirm the value in the life of others.
  • We cannot survive as a free nation when some men decide that others are not fit to live and should be abandoned to abortion or infanticide. My Administration is dedicated to the preservation of America as a free land, and there is no cause more important for preserving that freedom than affirming the transcendent right to life of all human beings, the right without which no other rights have any meaning.

If Mitt Romney showed the same conviction about life that Ronald Reagan had perhaps I would give him a pass on his flip flopping.  Romney switched because of political convenience; Reagan out of convictions and regret of a poor decision that he had made.  Viva la difference!

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  • http://kenreads.wordpress.com kenleonard

    Reagan also didn’t switch as he started running for President.

    Romney abruptly had all of these changes of heart right in time for the 2008 primary.

    But back to life … There is a story (I’ll try to find a link to a source later) about an adviser in the 1980 Reagan campaign who was telling Reagan that he should take the pro-choice stance in order to stay with the political winds. Reagan listened calmly for a while, then threw his pen across the room and kind of yelled at the adviser that abortion was an issue of real life and death, not just an issue to be figured out.

    Romney apologists are really stretching to try to make this comparison. Reagan hesitantly signed a bill that he repudiated shortly thereafter. Romney enthusiastically raised money for Planned Parenthood and didn’t recant until he had to.

    There is plenty of room in my world for people to change their minds. But in this case, there really is no comparison.

    • http://caffeinatedthoughts.com/?author=2 Shane Vander Hart

      That’s a great story Ken, I hadn’t heard that one before.

  • http://kenreads.wordpress.com kenleonard

    Got it!

    Sorry, I was tied up and never got back to this.

    Richard V. Allen reports it in an article at NRO:

    http://article.nationalreview.com/327127/reincarnating-reagan/richard-v-allen

    It was his glasses, not a pen, it turns out. It had been a while since I’d read it, but there it is!

    Campaign manager John Sears was the target of Reagan’s ire.