Richard Nixon on Abortion

President of the U.S., 1968-1974


Constitutional amendment prohibiting abortion is non-starter

The House's decline is not irreversible. The most-talked-about proposed amendments to the Constitution--prohibiting abortion, establishing the line-item veto, setting one 6-year term for Presidents--all are non-starters. But there is one change that all those interested in better government should support. The terms of members of the House should be extended to 4 years, with 1/2 being elected in the Presidential years and the other 1/2 in the off-year. This would mean that for at least 2 years of his 4 year term, a congressman could be a congressman rather than a perpetual candidate spending 75% of his time raising campaign funds and campaigning for reelection.
Source: In The Arena, by Richard Nixon, p.232 , Apr 1, 1991

No litmus test on abortion or on any pet issue

In 1980, the Republican nominee for Senate in Colorado, Mary Estill Buchanan, lost in a very close election. I was surprised when a Republican friend told me that he had not voted for her. I asked why. He replied, "She was wrong on abortion." As a result, we got 6 more years of Gary Hart, who was wrong on everything. I can understand people feeling strongly about special issues such as abortion, gun control, and ERA. But they should always step back and consider the alternative. Sometimes it is necessary to make a painful decision to support a candidate who may be wrong on your pet issue but right on most others. I have always believed that sticking to principles is not only the best statesmanship but also the best politics. However, this is a far cry from the approach of some politicians who are unable to see the difference between principle and prejudice.
Source: In The Arena, by Richard Nixon, p.336 , Nov 9, 1980

Define the nature and extent of the basic rights of privacy

One measure of a truly free society is the vigor with which it protects the liberties of its individual citizens. As technology has advanced in America, it has increasingly encroached on one of those liberties--what I term the right of personal privacy. Modern information systems, data banks, credit records, mailing list abuses, electronic snooping, the collection of personal data for one purpose that may be used for another--all these have left millions of Americans deeply concerned by the privacy they cherish.

And the time has come, therefore, for a major initiative to define the nature and extent of the basic rights of privacy and to erect new safeguards to ensure that those rights are respected.

I look forward to establishing a new set of standards that respect the legitimate needs of society, but that also recognize personal privacy as a cardinal principle of American liberty. [OnTheIssues note: the "right of privacy" was the basis for the Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling].

Source: Pres. Nixon's 1974 State of the Union message to Congress , Jan 30, 1974

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Page last updated: Feb 22, 2022