Former Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner said on Fox News Tuesday President Ronald Reagan wouldn’t win a GOP primary today because the California actor was “pro-abortion.”
“Ronald Reagan was actually pro-abortion,” Boehner said on Fox News’ “Special Report” with Bret Baier, criticizing the former president as a would-be moderate outcast in today’s Republican Party.
Reagan, however, was the most pro-life president in American history until President Donald Trump, and even wrote a book on the topic while in the White House, titled, “Abortion and the Conscience of the Nation.” The book, published in 1983, is the first time a president had ever written and published a book while in the White House.
Reagan was also the first president to implement the Mexico City Policy, an executive order that makes “neither performing nor actively promoting abortion as a method of family planning in other nations” a condition for receiving federal funding by any non-profit abroad. In other words, Reagan was the first to ban taxpayer funding of abortion overseas, a policy reinstated by President George W. Bush and Trump after their immediate predecessors rescinded the order. President Joe Biden rescinded the order again as one of his first actions in office.
Among Reagan’s other pro-life firsts was becoming the first president to address the annual March for Life in Washington D.C. in 1987 by telephone. President Bush addressed the marchers by phone in 2003 and President Trump set a new standard for Republican presidents with an in-person attendance last year.
While governor of California, Reagan’s record on abortion might be at odds with conservatives today, although in the White House, the president was a consistent advocate for life. Reagan even campaigned on a pro-life platform in 1980. One of his most famous quotes came during a 1980 September debate saying, “I’ve noticed that everybody that is for abortion has already been born.”
The Reagan White House filed amicus briefs in courts calling for the landmark 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade to be reversed in his first year in office, and maintained his commitment to the movement with pro-life rhetoric in high profile speeches, including the State of the Union.
In his last major speech to Congress in 1988, Reagan challenged the nation to re-evaluate its embrace of abortion.
“Tonight, I call America – a good nation, a moral people – to charitable but realistic consideration of the terrible cost of abortion on demand,” Reagan said. “To say 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?”