Today 150 hours of tape and 30,000 documents were made public from the Nixon administration. Among some of the revelations made from the disclosure was Nixon’s private view that abortion was only acceptable in cases of rape and interracial pregnancies. That’s right…interracial pregnancies. As disturbing as this position on abortion is, I hardly believe it was unfamiliar among the American public at the time.
This is a nation that exists 36 years after the 1973 Roe vs. Wade decision that fueled the Nixon comments and a nation that prides itself on having broken down its racial barriers with the election of Barack Obama. It seems that if only a portion of our presidential history is in the light, out of archival, then we have but a notion of how high these barriers really are. And a lot more healing is necessary, both public & private, before we break them down.
From the New York Times:
WASHINGTON — On Jan. 23, 1973, when the Supreme Court struck down laws criminalizing abortion in Roe v. Wade, President Richard M. Nixon made no public statement. But privately, newly released tapes reveal, he expressed ambivalence.
Nixon worried that greater access to abortions would foster “permissiveness,” and said that “it breaks the family.” But he also saw a need for abortion in some cases — like interracial pregnancies, he said.
“There are times when an abortion is necessary. I know that. When you have a black and a white,” he told an aide, before adding, “Or a rape.”
You stay classy, American History.
To hear the nearly inaudible tape, click here.