Politics

New Tapes Show Nixon's Feelings on Abortion

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Looks like old Slippery Dick Nixon wasn't the ideological pro-lifer we all assumed. Rick Santorum would not be pleased.

Newly released tapes held by the Richard Nixon Presidential Library reveal new insights into the mind of our most notorious president. In the wake of the landmark Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision striking down all laws that criminalized abortion, Richard Nixon was famously silent on the subject.

At the time he made no public statement of approval or disapproval. These new tapes reveal that although Nixon was uneasy with the potential cultural implications of widely available abortion procedures, he understood the need for them in the most extreme circumstances. Circumstances like rape and miscegenation.

Yeah, you read that right.

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The two instances that might warrant an abortion in the mind of Richard Nixon were rape and interracial pregnancy. It almost makes you wonder if Nixon saw a difference between the two. These comments, of course, need to be taken in the context of their time, but the whole conversation is still pretty shocking.

"It breaks the family," Nixon said of abortions. "But there are times when an abortion is necessary. I know that. When you have a black and a white. Or a rape."

As if the rape were just an afterthought.

The conversation takes place between Nixon and an unidentified aide. It is one of many telling moments found in the newly divulged recordings.

The materials released last Tuesday add up to more than 150 hours of tape and 30,000 pages of documents. Thanks to the National Archives, you can find the audio files online as well as a few samples from the documents.

Among the events covered by tapes are the Vietnam cease-fire, presidential pardons, religious tensions in America, Israel's covert pursuit of a nuclear weapon and the inner machinations of the Watergate scandal that eventually brought down Nixon's presidency.