How my father, Ronald Reagan, grappled with abortion

My father continued to support exceptions for rape, incest and the life of the pregnant woman in other instances, including when he instituted the Global Gag Rule, limiting women’s access to abortions in other countries where groups got money from the United States. For reasons I don’t understand, when he championed a constitutional “right to life” amendment it included an exception only for the life of the pregnant woman.

Here is what I’d like you to know about Ronald Reagan: There was complexity to his views on abortion; there was, as he said, “soul-searching,” and I believe to some degree his views remained a work in progress. I can’t change how some view his legacy, but I can offer some insights, some murkiness to what many want to see as brightly lit facts. I can’t change the things he said or did, but I can ask you to look a little deeper and consider the tangle of emotions beneath the surface. I can ask you to consider that his faith pulled at him when considering this issue, as did his personal history of losing a newborn. It is, in the end, possible to strongly disagree with people while understanding that they delved deeply into their own hearts, trying to be at peace with their positions. On this issue, though, I’m not sure my father ever found that peace.

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