Dr. Anne Hendershott is a professor of urban studies at The King’s College in New York. She is the author of The Politics of Abortion (Encounter Books, 2007). Writing for the Wall Street Journal this week, Hendershott summarizes how the pro-choice position became accepted by Roman Catholics like Ted Kennedy and now U.S. Senate candidate Caroline Kennedy. She explains that many well-known democrats (e.g., Bill Clinton, Al Gore, Jesse Jackson) were once pro-life:
Even Ted Kennedy, who gets a 100% pro-choice rating from the abortion-rights group Naral, was at one time pro-life. In fact, in 1971, a full year after New York had legalized abortion, the Massachusetts senator was still championing the rights of the unborn. In a letter to a constituent dated Aug. 3, 1971, he wrote: “When history looks back to this era it should recognize this generation as one which cared about human beings enough to halt the practice of war, to provide a decent living for every family, and to fulfill its responsibility to its children from the very moment of conception.”
But that all changed in the early ’70s, when Democratic politicians first figured out that the powerful abortion lobby could fill their campaign coffers (and attract new liberal voters). Politicians also began to realize that, despite the Catholic Church’s teachings to the contrary, its bishops and priests had ended their public role of responding negatively to those who promoted a pro-choice agenda.