Ronald Reagan Legalized Abortion In California

Early in 1967, the national debate on abortion was beginning and Democratic California state senator Anthony Beilenson introduced the “Therapeutic Abortion Act” bill to the California state senate.  

The Beilenson bill gained more traction when the Colorado legislature voted to liberalize their own abortion law.

Writes Lou Cannon: “Beilenson’s bill amended California law to allow abortions in cases of rape or incest, when a doctor deemed that the birth was likely to impair the physical or mental health of the mother, or when there was ‘substantial risk’ that the child would be born deformed.”  

Governor Reagan called for a compromise and they removed the instance of the child being born “deformed.”  

Beilenson, eager to get his abortion vote, removed that provision and the Senate passed it. 

The bill was an effort to reduce the number of “back-room abortions” performed in California.The State Legislature sent the bill to Reagan’s desk where, after several days of indecision, he signed it. 

In 1969 there was a decision in the California Supreme Court called People v. Belous that ruled that women have a fundamental right to decide whether to have a child and to protect their health.

4 thoughts on “Ronald Reagan Legalized Abortion In California

    1. It is interesting how far to the right conservatives THINK he was, but when you dig a little, it seems he was closer to the middle.

  1. Reagan was in many ways a pragmatist
    In governing
    Principled guy who got it right more times than he got it wrong

    Imagine a George McGovern or a John Kerry at Reykjavik in ’88 w/ Gorbachev
    What a mess that would have been for this country!

    1. That is speculation. However, it is clear that Reagan was more centrist than today’s war-hawk “all-or-nothing” right-wing politicians. Remember, Reagan did not attack Iraq. He could have tried to make the case to invade Lebanon, but he didn’t do it. Reagan was not as much of a war-hawk as today’s right-wingers.

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