Life in America: The Reagan Years, A Webography

Reagan and Domestic Policy--Abortion:  A Very Short Introduction

Reagan was pro-life, and therefore anti-abortion. He was quoted as saying, "If there is a question as to whether there is life or death, the doubt should be resolved in favor of life."

As Governor of California, Reagan signed into law the "Therapeutic Abortion Act," in an effort to reduce the number of "back room abortions" performed in California. As a result, approximately one million abortions would be performed; Reagan blamed this on doctors, arguing that they had deliberately misinterpreted the law. At the time that the law was signed, Reagan had been in office for merely four months, and stated that had he been more experienced as governor he would not have signed it. He then declared himself to be pro-life.

Reagan managed to gain the support of pro-life groups when running for president, despite his authorization of the "Therapeutic Abortion Act," by advocating a Constitutional amendment that would have prohibited all abortions except when necessary to save the life of the mother. He saw "abortion on demand" as emotionally harmful.

Source:  "Political Positions of Ronald Reagan."  Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia.  Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.  31 Dec. 2010.  Web.  6 Jan. 2011.

Web Resources about Reagan and Domestic Policy--Abortion

Ronald Reagan on the Issues

Score: 15

Summary: The On The Issues webpage has the mission to “provide non-partisan information for voters in the Presidential election, so that votes can be based on issues rather than on personalities and popularity.” Material for the site is retrieved “daily from newspapers, speeches, press releases, and the Internet” so that information is always up to date. Readers can view many “issues” that Ronald Reagan dealt with. Those available are abortion, budget & economy, civil rights, crime, drugs, education, energy & oil, environment, families & children, foreign policy, free trade, government reform, health care, homeland security, immigration, jobs, principles &values, social security, tax reform, technology, war & peace, and welfare & poverty. Each issue has listed a brief quote about action that Reagan took concerning that particular area and when it happened. There is a link bringing the reader to the full quotes where more in-depth information is found along with the source.

Evaluation: The site is copyrighted by and the SpeakOut Foundation. There is no specific author to this particular site but a list of staff can be found in the “about us” section of the website. While it was copyrighted 1999-2008, the page was last updated December 25, 2010 making it pretty recent. Also, all the information provided is cited and, in most cases, given a link to the original site.

Ronald Reagan and Domestic Politics

Score: 14

Summary: Readers are given a summary of Reagan’s presidency and his thoughts on domestic policy. “The site includes a summary page for each chief executive, provides Featured Presidents, an in-depth look at the presidents in the broadcast series line-up, and includes links to presidential sites, a detailed bibliography, collections of primary sources, and more.” Giving the site a twist, videos are available on some of the featured presidents. “Each program is an exquisite production; together, they represent a rich and valuable body of work, presenting a perfect blend of cinematic technique, historical perspective and compelling narrative.... Much as the presidencies themselves provide a framework for modern American history, these films stand for time as a major part of the public record of these very public lives...”

Evaluation: While this site is not necessarily about the abortion issue, it gives a background view of domestic policy throughout his time as president. The website is sponsored by and major funding provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. The Presidents series was honored in 1997 with a George Foster Peabody Award. Honors for individual programs have come from the Alfred I. duPont/Columbia Journalism Award, the George Foster Peabody Award, the CINE Gold Eagle, Writer's Guild, the Gold Hugo, the National Education Association, and others.

American President: Ronald Reagan: Domestic Affairs

Score: 15

Summary: Although the site is not specifically about abortion, it gives a review of Ronald Reagan and his domestic policy in general. Besides only having written information, a number of videos created by the Miller Center for Public Affairs at the University of Virginia are provided to support some of the topics. The mission of the site is “…a leading public policy institution that serves as a national meeting place where engaged citizens, scholars, students, media representatives, and government officials gather in a spirit of nonpartisan consensus to research, reflect, and report on issues of national importance to the governance of the United States, with special attention to the central role and history of the presidency.”

Evaluation: “The Miller Center of Public Affairs was established in 1975 through the generous gift of Burkett Miller, a Tennessee philanthropist and businessman who envisioned a university-based, nonpartisan institution to focus on the American presidency and important public policy issues.” The website was created recently in 2011 with sources that can be considered current. “The Miller Center's scholars include two Bancroft Prize winners, and its academic programs provide unparalleled insight into modern American statecraft.”

Ronald Reagan on Abortion

Score: 12

Summary: This website gives Ronald Reagan’s opinion on the issue of abortion. The site walks through his presidency giving information on what actions he took on the issues at the time. “The effects of Reagan’s constant attacks on abortion were felt long after and culminated in the assassination of numerous physicians and other abortion clinic workers.” “Ronald Reagan set out to make abortion a political crime against the state. Even in death, he may yet succeed. We will remember him for that.”

Evaluation: This page was reprinted with permission from The Colorado Statesman, a non-partisan political paper, on July 30, 2004. The author, Warren M. Hern, is a physician and the Director of the Boulder Abortion Clinic. The purpose of the clinic is to “provide the safest possible abortion care and termination of pregnancies for fetal anomalies or other medical indications.”

Ronald Reagan, Abortion, and the Conscience of the Nation

Score: 13

Summary: The website provides information from Reagan giving his opinions against abortion. The brief topics are followed by words directly from Ronald Reagan to support them. Also, a video from YouTube is provided with speech from Ronald Reagan and informative on-screen text about abortion.

Evaluation: The American Catholic is an online community of Christians, motivated by a rich heritage of Catholic spiritual and intellectual tradition, seeking to engage American society and culture in pursuit of the common good. The author, Donald R. McClarey, “ensures that [Reagan] will always have a special place in my heart, his defense of the weakest and the most vulnerable among us, the unborn.”

Ronald Reagan: Abortion and the Conscience of the Nation

Score: 13

Summary: This site gives a brief background of Reagan’s view on abortion. Provided are many quotes from Ronald Reagan’s book, Abortion and the Conscience of the Nation.  “[Reagan’s] Administration is dedicated to the preservation of America as a free land, and there is no cause more important for preserving that freedom than affirming the transcendent right to life of all human beings, the right without which no other rights have any meaning. “

Evaluation: Caffeinated Thoughts is about looking at culture, current events and politics from a distinctly evangelical Christian point of view. The author, Shane Vander Hart is Caffeinated Thoughts’ founder editor, and he joined by an excellent team of contributors. The site had a recent publication of August 4, 2010.

Reagan and Abortion: Some Perspective

Score: 13

Summary: The author, Steven F. Hayward refutes old opinions of people saying that Ronald Reagan didn’t do enough to end abortion, and wasn’t really pro-life after all. Hayward tries to understand Reagan’s opinions and supports his thoughts against abortion. Hayward thinks of ways that maybe could have helped gain the support of those opposing Reagan’s decisions. “…The lesson to be learned is that changing the course of the nation is a lot harder than just winning a landslide election.”

Evaluation: The Corner…in short time became a web-leading source of real-time conservative opinion…a “home for Volcano-Lancing news, congressional handicapping, arguments about American exceptionalism and updates on the Islamification of Europe.”

President Reagan--Anti-Abortion Protestor's Best Friend

Score: 13

Summary: This article tells about Reagan’s part in the anti-abortion movement. “Under this last of the Reagan years, Operation Rescue was born.  Operation Rescue is the group that took the idea of holding peaceful sit-ins to block access to abortion clinics.  It became America's largest civil-disobedience movement with over 80,000 arrests in a time span of less than ten years.” “When abortion clinics finally close their doors it should be in-part credited to the words and policies of President Ronald Reagan.”

Evaluation: In 1989 and the years that followed, Jeff White was the National Tactical Director for Operation Rescue.  He is presently the Executive Director of Survivors, and spends his time training teens and young adults in pro-life activism. Survivors is “a Christian, pro-life activism organization dedicated to educating and activating high school and college age individuals.” It has been published recently; however, sources are not cited or linked with no indication as to where the information originally came from.

Ronald Reagan: A Pro-Life Hero, Champion on Abortion

Score: 11

Summary: This site is the publication by in June 2004 about Reagan supporting a pro-life nation. "The American people have not had an opportunity to express their view on the sanctity of human life in the unborn. I am convinced that Americans do not want to play God with the value of human life. It is not for us to decide who is worthy to live and who is not." “The topics covered by include abortion, assisted suicide and euthanasia, bioethics issues such as human cloning and stem cell research, campaigns and elections, and legal and legislative issues.”

Evaluation: “ is an independent news agency devoted to reporting news that affects the pro-life community. With a team of experienced journalists and bloggers, reaches more than 500,000 pro-life advocates each week via its web site, email news reports, social networking outreach and weekday radio program. also acts as a service provider to furnish news content to media that share the pro-life perspective.”

Presidential Pro-Life Convictions

Score: 11

Summary: This site is set up showing a few of Reagan’s comments “about abortion and the right to the life of the unborn.” Reagan’s book, Abortion and the Conscience of the Nation is quoted along with a few of his other meetings.

Evaluation: “Priests for Life refers to a very specific effort to galvanize the clergy to preach, teach, and mobilize their people more effectively in the effort to end abortion and euthanasia. On another level, Priests for Life represents a family of ministries that reach and enrich every aspect of the pro-life movement, for clergy and laity alike, in a wide variety of activities.”

Content created by Sarah Miller.