Quoted: Richard Nixon on Abortion

Excerpted by Latoya Peterson

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.”

—“From Nixon Tapes, Ambivalence Over Abortion, Not Watergate,” The New York Times, June 23, 2009

(Thanks to Tristin for the tip!)

(Image Credit: Associated Press)