On Reagan’s 102nd Birthday, Republicans Remember his Legacy

ImageToday Republicans across the nation mark President Ronald Reagan’s 102nd Birthday by remembering the leader’s ability to build bridges and approach many issues from a place of common sense.  While the former president was personally very anti-choice, he respected, and believed the Party should respect, the right of Republicans to hold different and even opposing views on difficult social issues.

Unfortunately the GOP of today has moved further away from the open door and into the arena of litmus tests. The current Republican platform advocates for making abortion illegal even in cases of rape and incest or to save the life of a woman. This stridently anti-choice position leaves no room for open discussion within the Party and is more extreme than a bill signed by Reagan himself. In 1967, prior to the groundbreaking Roe decision, in an effort to curb back-alley abortions, Reagan signed the “Therapeutic Abortion Act.” An act that while prohibiting some abortions, still allowed the procedure in cases of rape, incest and when pregnancy would impair the health or well-being of the mother. This distinction allowed physicians and patients to determine the health status of the woman without intrusive government overreach. During a time when women were regularly dying from obtaining the procedure illegally, this act not only limited the number of abortions, but also saved countless women’s lives.

Former President Reagan also appointed Sandra Day O’Conner to the Supreme Court in 1981, despite staunch opposition from anti-choice groups. The Republican Justice understood that the true role of the courts, as expressed in both the Roe v. Wade decision and O’Conner’s opinion in Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992), was to limit government intrusion and protect personal freedom, self-determination and privacy.

Today, instead of promoting these ideals and working for effective solutions to lesson the incidence of abortion, leaders in the GOP make offensive statements about rape and again ratify a platform calling for a Constitutional ban on abortion even in the case of rape, incest or to save a woman’s life. As Republicans remember Regan’s vision of government, we should seek to apply the principles of common sense and limited government to all aspects of public policy—including reproductive health. And we should forward a Party stance that welcomes differing Republican views that adhere to the principles of limited government and personal freedom.

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