I grew up in the 1970s and 1980s and I have always associated the fight against abortion (and contraception, sex education and LGBTQ rights) with the Christian right.
Since the U.S. Supreme Court majority opinion overturning Roe v. Wade was leaked, I have learned more about the history of abortion as a political issue: specifically, that opposition to abortion was intentionally fostered among evangelical Christians.
I was surprised to learn that prior to the 1970s, restricting abortion was not an issue of particular social or political concern for evangelicals – segregation was, according to Dartmouth religion professor Randall Balmer, writing recently in Politico. In 1968, Christianity Today magazine published “A Protestant Affirmation on the Control of Human Reproduction,” which explicitly endorsed “the necessity and permissibility of (abortion) under certain circumstances.”
That was evangelical Protestants arguing in favor of permitting abortions under certain circumstances – five years before the Roe decision.
According to filmmaker Frank Schaeffer, in an interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour, the anti-abortion doctrine associated with evangelicals was not adopted as a cause célèbre until years after the Roe decision. He and his father, theologian Francis Schaeffer, collaborated with Dr. C. Everett Koop on the 1979 anti-abortion propaganda film series and book “Whatever Happened to the Human Race,” which helped reinforce anti-abortion sentiment…