Slandering Reagan?

September 20, 2008 § 32 Comments

From the mail bag:

A commenter to one of your posts kept insisting that Reagan made abortion exceptions in case of rape and incest. I have been unable to find evidence of this during his presidency, only during his tenure as governor. He did not allow Medicaid funds to be expended for rape and incest abortions, for example, while president. It seems unlikely he would have made such exceptions for people who could afford the abortions on their own. The commenter’s accusations have no effect on the validity of your argument, but I hate seeing dead people get smeared. Maybe he’s right, but perhaps you could ask him to provide the evidence.

I’m not entirely sure which combox this happened in, and I certainly don’t know the answers myself, but if the commenter wants to provide evidence for the contention, here is another combox for that purpose.

Tagged:

§ 32 Responses to Slandering Reagan?

  • Lydia McGrew says:

    Reagan had a genuine conversion experience on the subject of abortion, so I certainly think we need to view with a jaundiced eye any evidence concerning his views prior to a radical change in his views. When most people talk about Reagan and the abortion issue, they mean the Reagan they knew as President.

  • love the girls says:

    Slander?“I take offense at that . . ” J. Jonah JamesonMrs. McGrew writes : “Reagan had a genuine conversion experience”If that’s what the genuine looks like, then I might as well buy the cheapo knock-off for a penny and save 99 cents of my dollar.

  • zippy says:

    Any more non-substantive comments will be deleted. This thread in particular is for actual evidence that Reagan did or did not actively support some form of murdering the innocent as President. In general, my blog is for substantive discussion of subjects that interest me. It is not a graffiti wall for random ravings.

  • Lydia McGrew says:

    http://tinyurl.com/4qhs24That is a link to a 1987 New York Times story. According to that story…1) Reagan ran on a platform, which he continued to uphold thereafter, of supporting a human life amendment which would have had only the life of the mother as an exception to a flat ban on abortions.2) Bush, Sr., was actually considered to be “opposed” to Reagan in that he would have supported such an amendment that also had a rape and incest exception. It’s unclear from the story whether Bush, Sr., viewed this as a tactical move in order to get such an amendment passed (that is one plausible interpretation of the quotes from him) or whether he actually believed abortion should be legal in such cases. What is clear is that Bush, Sr., said that Reagan did not even want an amendment to contain such exceptions.

  • Lydia McGrew says:

    That’s what one sentence of that book implies. But in fact, a rape exception was one aspect of the liberalizing abortion bill in California that Reagan originally signed and later regretted.http://tinyurl.com/4svy6b“Legislation allowing this exception [for rape] has historically led to abortion on demand. Former President Reagan has attested to widespread abuse of the rape exception in his home state of California while he was governor.”Moreover, Cannon’s implication that Reagan favored such exceptions is directly contradicted by the express statement attributed to Reagan’s own Vice President in the 1987 article I linked above, where Bush, Sr., says that Reagan opposed inserting such exceptions in a human life amendment, apparently even as a strategic matter, and that this was a *difference of opinion* between the two of them.

  • William Luse says:

    Yes, especially since Zippy’s correspondent asked for “evidence of this during his presidency.” Good work, Lydia.Note to Zippy: this is a substantive statement.

  • love the girls says:

    Mrs. McGrew, What Reagan regretted was “abortion on demand”, which is how you should read Lou Cannon’s biography without straining the tea leaves for what is not there. If you have read Reagan’s article to Human Life Reveiw, one cannot be but struck by his consistent use of the term “abortion on demand.”What I quoted from was but a biography by Lou Cannon, but I’ll take that biography over a article by the New York Times which does nothing more than state what it thinks Reagan’s position was.Further, if someone actually wants to know how genuinely committed Reagan was vesus some Camelot version, just look to Sandra Day who was known as not pro-life when she was nominated.

  • love the girls says:

    William Luse writes :”especially since Zippy’s correspondent asked for “evidence of this during his presidency.””The comment on abortion exceptions in Lou Cannon’s biography was not limited to prior to his becoming president. It gives the time when his view changed to include only those exceptions, but doesn’t indicate that those exceptions ever ceased to be his position.

  • Lydia McGrew says:

    Please note that the NYT article was not only summarizing Reagan’s position (as Cannon was). It _does_ have a summary, and one which flatly contradicts Cannon’s. So far as that goes, we just have conflicting summaries, and you pays your money and takes your choice. Even there, there could easily be ways of checking reliability–closeness to the time, for example. But the NYT article has more than a summary of Reagan’s position. It has the following verbatim quotation from VP Bush:”The President and I do favor a human rights amendment. I favor one that would have an exception for incest and rape, and he doesn’t, but we both -only for the life of the mother….”This is a quotation from an interview. It agrees with the summary they give above in the article and constitutes express evidence for it; the thrust of the article is to contrast Bush’s views with Reagan in various areas. Cannon has no such express evidence at all.

  • Lydia McGrew says:

    Further evidence, in Reagan’s own words, supporting the NYT summary and Bush’s explicit statement of Reagan’s position on what the Human Life Amendment should be. From the State of the Union Address, 1988:“Well now, we come to a family issue that we must have the courage to confront. Tonight, I call America—a good nation, a moral people—to charitable but realistic consideration of the terrible cost of abortion on demand. To those who say this violates a woman’s right to control of her own body—can they deny that now medical evidence confirms the unborn child is a living human being entitled to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? Let us unite as a nation and protect the unborn with legislation that would stop all federal funding for abortion—and with a human life amendment making, of course, an exception where the unborn child threatens the life of the mother. Our Judeo-Christian tradition recognizes the right of taking a life in self-defense. But with that one exception, let us look to those others in our land who cry out for children to adopt. I pledge to you tonight, I will work to remove the barriers to adoption and extend full sharing in family life to millions of Americans, so that children who need homes can be welcomed to families who want them and love them.”HT: Web site of Concerned Women for AmericaFull text of the SOTU address containing the quote available here:http://tinyurl.com/4je9t6Y’know, LTG, Google is a great thing. It didn’t really take me long to find this stuff.

  • William Luse says:

    You know, ltg, it’s as though you didn’t even bother to read Lydia’s comments. (“Abortion on demand”, btw, includes rape and incest or ‘on demand’ wouldn’t mean much.) The excerpt from Cannon’s book clearly refers to Reagan’s sense of regret after signing the Therapeutic Abortion Act <>while he was governer<>. The SOTU address seems to make exception only for life of the mother. Your Sandra Day O’Connor remark is a change of subject, which often occurs when one cannot provide evidence for his assertions. It’s of no moment to me whether Reagan made such exceptions or not. I just don’t think people should say he did unless they know it for a fact.

  • Anonymous says:

    http://archive.newsmax.com/archives/ic/2007/3/12/122118.shtml<> In 1967, then-California Gov. Reagan signed a liberal abortion law legalizing the procedure in cases where a woman’s mental as well as physical health was at risk.The number of abortions in California soared after the bill was passed, and Reagan came to regret singing it, the Times reported. By the time he ran for president in 1980, Reagan had declared his support for a constitutional amendment prohibiting all abortions except to save the life of a woman.<>But I wonder how Reagan on artificial birth control? Zippy’s requirement of a perfect candidate is similar to pacifism in that it is at the same time admirable and deplorable. Admirable in its purity and idealism, but deplorable in its effect on the common good should many follow his lead. Pacifists and non-voters ought speak their truth, but do so humbly cognizant of the greater burden they place on their fellow citizens in terms of defense of the country or in selecting good (if flawed) leaders.

  • love the girls says:

    Mrs. McGrew and Mr. Luse,The Mexico City Policy was a policy issued by Reagan in 1984 which imposed restrictions on USAID which allowed for the exceptions of rape, incest and life of the mother.The restrictions were consistent with his regret of “abortion on demand.” http://www.reproductiverights.org/pub_fac_ggrbush.html“the Reagan Administration issued extremely restrictive regulations that interpreted the phrase “abortion as a method of family planning” to mean all abortions, except when performed in cases of rape, incest, or when the life of the woman would be endangered if the fetus was carried to term.”

  • love the girls says:

    btw, while attempting to provide a source to help prove USAID under Reagan paid for Depo-Provera I ran across this:The web source is a bit questionable, but the BBC isn’t if it was actually published.“Human Lab Rats . . . A 1995 British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) documentary, The Human Laboratory, reported that in the mid-1980s USAID paid a private group, the Population Council, to conduct Norplant tests in Bangladesh. The test subjects: poor women living in slums who were offered the drug for free and told it was proven safe. All they had to do was have six plastic cylinders implanted in their arms and their troubles would be over.”

  • zippy says:

    I don’t require a ‘perfect’ candidate. I require the same thing in a candidate as I require in a just war: no murdering the innocent. And as when discussing war, people accuse me of being a pacifist.

  • Lydia McGrew says:

    I can check out the USAID claim further, but I think the human life amendment support, now confirmed from multiple sources, pretty much dishes the claim that “Reagan favored exceptions for rape and incest.” I mean, the quotation from the SOTUS is a killer, in his own words, yet. LTG just has a “never admit you’ve been shown wrong” policy.

  • love the girls says:

    Mrs McGrew,The actual question was is there evidence that Reagan made exceptions for rape and incest? Reagan’s restrictions on USAID did make those exceptions.If you want to argue that Reagan didn’t make exceptions elsewhere, that is a different argument and does not disprove that he did make exceptions in his Mexico City Policy, but using the human life amendment is a rather doubtful source since only those who where completely clueless on the subject would even suggest making exceptions. There were certain lines that have always been drawn, not allowing exceptions in constitutional amendments at the state and federal levels was one of those lines.

  • Lydia McGrew says:

    I guess G. Bush, Sr., was “completely clueless,” then. I don’t think so. Actually, the exact formulation of a human life amendment was a _huge_ matter of controversy strategically among pro-lifers, which is one part of why it never passed.When it came to outlawing abortion, Reagan definitely did not support making rape and incest exceptions. That is now shown beyond shadow of a doubt. It looks as though (from what I’ve been able to find out so far) the Mexico City policy, negotiated by Alan Keyes, of all people, made those exceptions in continuing USAID to organizations, on the grounds that the policy prohibited aid to organizations that “promoted abortion as a means of family planning” and that abortion in such cases was not a “means of family planning. This was obviously a strategic outworking of the connection between foreign aid and population control. Moreover, it certainly was an improvement over the previous situation in which there was no such restriction whatsoever and U.S. foreign aid was used extensively to promote abortion as part of population control policies abroad, as it was once again under Clinton.The SOTU speech makes it clear that Reagan supported _outlawing_ abortion without such exceptions, and generally when one says, “So-and-so made such exceptions” one means at a minimum, “So-and-so supported laws that would not outlaw abortion in such cases.” At that point one still has to discuss (as John McG brought up before) the distinction between a willingness to vote for such laws as a matter of strategy while hoping to outlaw more abortions later and the actual position that abortion _should be legal_ in such cases. But it is clear that in _neither_ sense did Reagan support exceptions for rape and incest to laws outlawing abortion.

  • love the girls says:

    Mrs McGrew,What ever the reasoning was, the exceptions were made. The proof of which is what was asked for so as not to libel Reagan.The exceptions appear consistent with his own writing on the subject and are consistent with his biographer, but what he thought himself is a different argument from what his policy was insofar as did his policy allow for exceptions, which they did in his Mexico City Policy.

  • Lydia McGrew says:

    LTG, you tempt one to impatience. You seem really not even to understand what I have just said. This wasn’t just a matter of personal thinking unrelated to policy. You think a law outlawing all abortions without exceptions for rape and incest is not a matter of policy? You seem not even to understand the difference between a *policy* making abortions *illegal* with no such exceptions–which Reagan pushed and promoted and tried to get put into place–and a policy of, let’s get this right, refusing to give foreign aid to organizations that promote abortion as a means of family planning, where “promote abortion as a means of family planning” is defined in such a way that rape and incest exceptions are not considered to be a means of family planning.Do I think that was a wise Mexico City policy? No, I don’t. But it is, I maintain, a slander to say of Reagan that he promoted a policy of making rape and incest exceptions *to abortion laws*. If you cannot understand that, and why it is the case, I don’t know what more I can do to make it clear.

  • love the girls says:

    Mrs. McGrew,What was asked for was an example of Reagan making exceptions, not proof that he always made exceptions.One example of exceptions made is sufficient to for it not to be libel to say “Reagan made abortion exceptions in case of rape and incest.”

  • Lydia McGrew says:

    I would leave any audience to judge for itself what is usually understood by a phrase like “Reagan had exception for abortion in cases of rape and incest.” For myself, I would normally understand this to refer to the policies he supported and pushed regarding the legality of abortion in the United States, specifically, of which he was President. And I should add that federal funding for abortions in those cases for welfare recipients, for example, came into being only in the Clinton administration. The foreign policy case, even if correctly understood, is not something I would normally take to be meant by the statement about Reagan that we were supposed to be testing.And indeed you take this to be part of some general lack of support for outlawing abortion in such cases on Reagan’s part, that he objected merely to the legality of abortion “on demand.” You have made that clear again and again in this thread. The SOTU quote refutes that absolutely, but you are not interested in admitting that you have indeed mischaracterized him.

  • love the girls says:

    Mrs. McGrew writes : “And indeed you take this to be part of some general lack of support for outlawing abortion in such cases on Reagan’s part, that he objected merely to the legality of abortion “on demand.””I have given an example of a government policy which came specifically from Reagan and was actually enacted, and which did make exceptions for rape and incest. Can you name one policy which came specifically from Reagan and was actually enacted which specifically did not include those exceptions?_________________Mrs McGrew writes : “you are not interested in admitting that you have indeed mischaracterized him.”Does Lou Cannon also mischaracterize him?The Role of a lifetime Lou Cannon page p812http://www.ontheissues.org/Celeb/Ronald_Reagan_Abortion.htmPlease note further down the web page in Reagan’s speech on the human life amendment his use of the term “abortion on demand”.

  • zippy says:

    Well, I think ‘government policy’ might be being used equivocally here. Reagan was not in a position to affect the laws of Mexico, and giving money to a charity which has bad policies is something which can be justified under double effect; so I’m not sure it constitutes evidence that Reagan <>supported the murder of the innocent<>. At the very least it clearly remains an arguable point, based on evidence in this thread so far, with the balance of the evidence showing that he did not.

  • William Luse says:

    Your Lou Cannon question has already been answered, and so has your repeated reference to “abortion on demand.” You read only what you want to hear. What’s really interesting is your obsessive-compulsive hatred of Reagan, who everyone admits was the most vociferously pro-life president we’ve ever had. You chide Zippy for being too much of a purist, and Reagan for not being enough of one. There’s no pleasing some people.

  • love the girls says:

    William Luse writes : “Reagan, who everyone admits was the most vociferously pro-life president we’ve ever had.”Compared to the 90%, at best, pro-elective abortion Bushes 1 and 2, and the even more pro-abortion Clinton? That is faint praise indeed. But true enough, in the land of pro-abortion presidents Reagan was most the “vociferously pro-life president we’ve ever had.” btw, I don’t hate Reagan, but it is interesting that attempting to set the record straight is taken as hatred. The record is that he did little for the movement beyond a few phone calls to the right to life march, and restrictions on military abortions with exceptions for rape, incest and life of the mother and restrictions on USAID with the same exceptions as noted previously .

  • love the girls says:

    I forgot the title X “gag rule” when listing Reagan’s accomplishments. btw, It was 1988 that the Reagan administration banned all abortions at U.S. military facilities, except in cases of rape, incest or danger to the woman’s life.

  • Lydia McGrew says:

    I’ve been researching the military bases thing a bit. Getting conflicting evidence. Several web sites say what you say, LTG, but the NRLC abortion timeline says only a life of the mother exception at that time. It’s pretty clear all three exceptions obtain now, so the others would have had to come in at some intermediate time. So I don’t know which it was. That’s just on that factual matter.

  • Anonymous says:

    Could you have voted for Reagan if he had advocated the evil of contraception?

  • zippy says:

    <>Could you have voted for Reagan if he had advocated the evil of [non-abortaficient] contraception?<>Probably, though I’d have to look at the particulars. I’ve mentioned before, citing <>Evangelium Vitae<>, that there is a particular contradiction involved in supporting a government official who himself supports murdering the innocent. While it is true that government advocacy of anything intrinsically evil is problemmatic, government advocacy of murdering the innocent is fundamentally self contradictory in a way that other government injustices are not.

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