One of America’s most pro-life presidents (who gave us one of our movement’s most iconic quotes: I notice everyone who’s for abortion has already been born) was not always pro-life. In fact, Ronald Reagan passed the Therapeutic Abortion Act in 1967 as Governor of California. Reagan refused to pass a more expansive version of the act. However, he did sign a less lenient act which allowed for abortions in cases of rape and incest and for the health and life of the mother.
He later called this action a “mistake” and went on to become a pro-life politician.
After the passage of Roe v. Wade in 1973, Reagan became one of the leading members of the pro-life movement and is considered one of the most pro-life presidents. What contributed to this change from a lukewarm politician and a pro-life activist?
Shockingly, it was a Charlie Brown cartoon that forced the politician to do some serious “soul searching” on the issue.
Peanuts cartoonist Charles Schulz shared many correspondences with Ronald Reagan. In one 1970s correspondence, Reagan wanted to thank Charles for haunting him “in a nice way” with a thought-provoking cartoon. Reagan explained the cartoon in his letter (mistaking Linus for Charlie Brown), “Charlie was asking Lucy about what happens to a very nice baby waiting in heaven to be born when the mother and father decides they don’t want it. Lucy of course put him down severely. Charlie finished simply remarking he still thought it was a good question.” Here is the cartoon:
In his letter, Reagan explained that the cartoon pricked a “nerve” over his decision to “liberalize” California’s abortion laws. He noted that abortionists were using loopholes to push abortions and how that resulted in “more than fifty thousand abortions of unwed mothers in the coming year on such a flimsy diagnosis.” The results of signing the act clearly affected him. Reagan saw the country moving towards a culture of death and he regretted his role in the cultural shift.
The cartoon may not have changed his mind, however, it clearly forced him to think more deeply about his actions. This story is a call to each of us to continue to use our talents to create a culture of life. Students for Life of America has been fortunate to work with talented and creative student leaders. We know that art, humor, communication, social media, messaging, and more can bring our culture closer to the truth.
That is why Students for Life of America created the Hildegard Art Fellowship which was designed to bring the performing and visual arts together with the Pro-Life Movement. If you are interested in learning more about the Hildegard Art Fellowship, reach out to Kate Maloney at [email protected].
Join our movement by reaching out to your Regional Coordinator at [your state]@studentsforlife.org. We NEED your talents and skills to change hearts and minds! You never know who you might influence and how that could impact our country, culture, and laws.
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