Every man has a day they may regret for the rest of their lives. For Ronald Reagan that day was June 14. Yes, June 14, 1967, fifty years ago today.
How can it be that the man generally recognized to be the most ardent pro-life president in the last 50 years is the same man who ushered in abortion to California with the Therapeutic Abortion Act?
I wondered the same thing for many years. I assumed he must have had a major change of heart, a conversion of some sort. But that is not the case.
In reality, it was a naiveite that words mean something – an idea that seems lost today. Words mean what every individual wants them to mean and beyond that even the simplest cultural traditions are full of meanings never attached to them.
In 1967 Ronald Reagan really had no opinion on abortion per se. So, he consulted a Catholic friend who loaded him down with information both religious and scientific. Reagan studied this information diligently.
Knowing his veto of the bill would likely be over-ridden he instead elected to limit as best he could the language in the act. Preventing abortion in all but the rarest of cases: life of the mother, mental health etc.
Ronald Reagan never dreamed how broad a brush both judges and doctors would be willing to paint those restrictions. Ronald Reagan regretted it for the rest of his life.
Which brings us to today.
Those who oppose incrementalism (passing laws to limit abortions) make the argument that when you vote to save one class of pre-born, say any older than 20 weeks, you are at the same time saying it is ok to kill the others.
Now I have always been willing to support a bill that will save babies lives tomorrow but I wonder if Ronald Reagan had stood against incrementalism and vetoed the bill - - maybe just maybe God would have blessed his faithfulness and possibly prevented the introduction of abortion in California.
I love Ronald Reagan and I am still in support of any bill that will save a baby tomorrow, while at the same time fighting to end abortion completely in America.
I remain conflicted by the tension between the two and Ronald Reagan’s greatest regret challenges me. Is it better to stand absolute and let die who may so the world knows by your stance the killing is wrong and violates God’s law or is it better to rescue who you can while fighting to bring an end to the bloodshed.
God have mercy on me. I don’t know.