There’s a reason Samuel Alito had to go back to the thirteenth century to draw his history. There’s much more recent history that isn’t so supportive of his claim to and tradition.
The abortion issue is a cynical concoction by the Republican Party of the 1970s, along with the Southern Strategy.
In the late 1960s, there was a general societal move toward acknowledging abortion and including it in women’s healthcare. It included much of the Republican Party and the mainline Protestant Churches, as well as many Catholics. It was part of the larger movement at the time to give women full civil rights.
Republican governor Ronald Reagan signed the California Therapeutic Abortion Act, one of the most liberal abortion laws in the country, in 1967, legalizing abortion for women whose mental or physical health would be impaired by pregnancy, or whose pregnancies were the result of rape or incest. The same year, the Republican strongholds of North Carolina and Colorado made it easier for women to obtain abortions. New York, under Governor Nelson Rockefeller, a Republican, eliminated all restrictions on women seeking to terminate pregnancies up to twenty-four weeks gestation. (Reversing Roe shows young women in Dallas boarding airplanes headed to these states.) Richard Nixon, Barry Goldwater, Gerald Ford, and George H.W. Bush were all pro-choice, and they were not party outliers. In 1972, a Gallup poll found that 68 percent of Republicans believed abortion to be a private matter between a woman and her doctor. The government, they said, should not be involved. (NYRB, November 2018)
Republican operatives were looking for a hook to bring in more social conservatives – Catholics and fundamentalist Protestants. At the time, the big issue with the fundies was that if their universities were tax-exempt charities, they couldn’t do things like ban interracial dating. But Paul Weyrich and friends pulled abortion out of a hat as the issue to focus on, and the rest is history.
During his 1972 presidential campaign, Republican Richard Nixon began staking out anti-abortion positions as part of a strategy to appeal to Catholic voters and other social conservatives. After Nixon won the election and a majority of Catholic votes, Republican strategists began using the same tactics in Congress, as well as forging coalitions with evangelical groups around opposition to abortion. (Vox, April 2019)
The two-page spread at the top of the post is an advertisement in Ms. Magazine in 1972. It was a big step for women to publicly say they had had abortions.
The whole movement is deception and lies. Their “science” is appallingly bad, and far too much of the media has absorbed it, including calling collections of 16 or 32 cells “babies” instead of “embryos.” As the radical right reaches for the bottom of the barrel, they are now legislating against medical treatment of ectopic pregnancies, in which a fertilized egg implants outside the uterus, causing hemorrhaging and death within days.
Here’s a collection of photos and ultrasounds illustrating gestational development. I think this is the one I found a couple of years ago. It’s been downgraded on Google in favor of angelic-looking representations with a soft glow around them.
A couple more articles:
And a longer view of the history:
Update: Excellent article from Rolling Stone.
Cross-posted to Lawyers, Guns & Money