How America’s abortion obsession was sparked on a conference call
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How America’s abortion obsession was sparked on a conference call

November 19, 2019


Without abortion,
women can’t be free. It’s murder. America’s anti-abortion movement is
gaining ground fast and it’s white evangelical Christians on the front line. We will see Roe v Wade
consigned to the the ash heap of history, where it belongs. I promise you. They are a strident force
in the pro-life movement but not so long ago
this group was completely indifferent on the issue of abortion. So what happened? This is how a group of men turned
millions of disengaged Americans into the most powerful political force
in the country. It’s hard to believe now
but abortion hasn’t always been the political firestorm that it is today. Early on, before Reagan,
the Republican party was actually more abortion-friendly than Democrats. The Republican party was conservative,
didn’t like state intervention and people’s personal lives
and so forth. This meant that in 1973
the landmark Roe v Wade decision would legalise abortion across the country. The decision to end a pregnancy
belongs to the woman and her doctor not the government. The only significant group to object
was the Catholic church and they had always done so. White evangelicals were then,
as now, the biggest religious group in the country? They made up 26% of the population. But unlike today, they were ambivalent
on the issue of abortion and politics in general. Evangelicals regarded abortion
as a Catholic issue. And it was really irrelevant
to who they were and what they cared about. They were more interested in evangelism,
that is bringing others into the faith, and they had really no interest in politics. Politics was dirty, was considered
Satan’s ground to some degree and they didn’t want to be involved
in politics at all. Certainly not in any organised way. Until a man called Paul Weyrich
got involved. It made no sense to me. They need to be unified. And I began to think,
what could you do? Political operator Paul Weyrich
team up with influential preacher Jerry Falwell. The two men looked at churches
filled with believers and saw political and financial opportunity. The 60s were a time of political revolution, with the civil rights movement,
feminism and the LGBT cause pushing their way into mainstream politics. And Weyrich’s mission was to crush the liberalism
that was threatening conservative white America. Paul Weyrich really was a visionary because he saw
the potential way back in the 1960s. Weyrich and Falwell first managed to
mobilise Evangelicals when changing laws around school segregation put all-white
Christian academies at risk. The two of them really came together
to form the basis for the religious right. When the evangelicals
lost the segregation fight, the two men were on the hunt for any issue to keep the momentum going. Paul Weyrich said, as I recall, that there was a conference call among these various leaders after they had mobilised
and somebody said, ‘We have the makings
here of a political movement, what other issues can we talk about?’ And several people made suggestions
and finally a voice at the end of one of the lines said: ‘How about abortion?’ So I think, you know,
I think our family was involved in helping to launch a horror show. Weyrich and Falwell enlisted
the help of philosopher Evangelist and cult figure, Francis Schaeffer. My father Francis Schaeffer
was a well-known evangelical leader. And I made a film series with him called
Whatever Happened to the Human Race? And we went on the road with this series
and had a series of seminar tours that put it in front of about 150,000
people in 20 different venues. It is a human rights issue, an issue that concerns
the human rights of unborn babies who by the hundreds of thousands
are being murdered. I flew around this country in Jerry Falwell’s
private jet. We have a threefold primary responsibility, number one, get people saved,
number two, get them baptised, number three, get them registered to vote. In just a few years,
abortion went from a non-issue to a massive moral concern
for millions of evangelicals and this passive group was transformed
into a political force. This gave them an entree into places like
the White House and other places because they could bring millions of voters
with them and then the thing became a juggernaut. The biggest person that we helped talk into
taking a stand was Ronald Reagan. He went from the governor who had legalised abortion
in California to becoming a pro-life advocate for only one reason. Polling indicated that the Reagan campaign
was still losing rather badly and it’s at that point,
early in the fall, that they began
to step up the rhetoric on abortion. I happen to believe
from all the study that I have been able to do, all the information that
I have been able to get, that when you interrupt a pregnancy
you are taking a human life. And that appears to have helped
them with evangelicals going into the election day in November. Ronald Reagan won the election. And in the year 1980, America
had its first president with the pro-life agenda. This massive shift
in abortion sentiment among evangelicals and then the president himself,
proved that Weyrich and Falwell had realised their vision. They had created a religious right
that they could use to set the political agenda
for an entire nation. Paul Weyrich I think was a …
I sometimes call him an evil genius. He was a visionary and he saw this
as being a potent electoral force capable of redirecting
the political direction of the country. And I think in a large measure,
his vision, his aspirations have come about. 1980 is when we see the political
triumph of this movement getting an important seat at the Republican table, and they’ve been there ever since. You really think about Christ
and redemption? All people are precious. I was wrong in the past,
this was while I was governor. I’m not going to apologise for the fact
I became pro-life, Ronald Reagan took the same course. I stand for the sanctity of life. It’s no secret that I’m pro-life. As the political power and the ability to
deliver of the pro-life movement became so clear, there just was no place anymore
in the Republican party for people who were pro-choice. There used to be a group
called Republican Women for Choice, I mean,
they disbanded, I mean, they just don’t exist anymore. I’m very pro-choice. And we are proudly defending the
sanctity of life. There’s no way to undo
the damage that we did. I mean, you know,
I look at Donald Trump and part of my brain says,
‘Part of this is your fucking fault.’ The baby is born, the mother
meets with the doctor, and then the doctor and the mother determine whether or not
they will execute the baby. I don’t think so. I mean, this is a case study
of … it doesn’t matter who you are, or what you personally have done,
if you make clear that you support the pro-life position, they will support you. Abortion is the law of the land. And we are trying to change that. Three states are trying to overturn
Roe v Wade right now. I think it’s very possible that
the supreme court, given its current composition,
will reverse the Roe v Wade position. However, should that happen
I think the backlash would be furious. I think the backlash probably has an even
greater potential of bending American politics, than any action by the part of supreme court. Yes, I would say that millions of white American
evangelicals have been manipulated in ways they don’t understand. And evangelicals, their story
is a footnote to a larger story now. Can we ever depoliticise abortion? My imagination stops there. I don’t think we can. Thank you for watching,
we hope you enjoyed this explainer. If you did, you can check out
other ones in the series. Don’t forget to like, comment and subscribe and if you have any ideas of what you think
that we should cover in explainers, then you can let us know in the comments.

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  1. As a Canadian atheist, I'm here to tell you it's not a religious issue. I'm pro life and the pro choice arguments are garbage

  2. Why are the raging left obsessed with race? Why batch evangelicals as white? Because they're majority white? Who cares if that's so?

    It's literally racist to attack their ethnicity – all while comedians are being branded racist for playing on cultural stereotypes. Clowns.

  3. The irony is that it’s actually conservatives who were the original pro choice people. Don’t believe me google it. Christians make up anything if it serves political purpose. Ideology serves the function of advancing mwtieral interest

  4. We have forgotten the truth in ourselves and confused it with beliefs, my friends. The great questions beating in our tiny, fragile hearts. And the answers we once had to the strange, beautiful, terrible, brief things called lives, existences, we find ourselves thrown, all too helplessly, alone, mortal, into.
    Our systems and institutions that do the polar opposite of the ones we have today, which fuel envy, greed, selfishness, rage, meaningless, ignorance, bigotry…an endless list of human moral and social and intellectual implosion it is. Each just as helpless, just as alone, just as mortal, just as afraid, desperate, and frightened by it all too. So let us begin there, Even if it means beginning all over again.

  5. I swear BBC and Guardian are very obsessed with US news and not truly global news…very west oriented.
    What do other people think? Do you even care?

    Having said that, this was interesting in terms of hindsight, history and how people's views can change.

  6. Pro War politicians calling for the Sanctity of Life , who don't like the government to pay for childcare …… Double standard much???

  7. This is nothing to do with the love of the 'unborn' it is more to do with a hatred for women – the sluts should be punished for their wanton behaviour and forced to give birth to the child they conceived on some stupid night out when they had too much to drink.

  8. It's too late. Look what the corporations did to healthcare in that country, both in terms of the cost of care and the ongoing opioid epidemic. Unfettered corruption is allowing their society to snowball out of control.

  9. Abortion didn't used to be 'from conception to birth canal'. That is exactly the stance on which the Left has planted its flag. I think the Left has done more to mobilize the religious and Moral Right in the past 10 years than any 10 preachers combined.

  10. Abortion isn’t nearly as controversial in other socially advanced western nations. Why? Because they don’t have Evangelicals and nutty Christians that have become the ball and chain of many politicians. They continue to whip citizens into a frenzy over unimportant social issues, instead of allowing people to live their lives and focus on more important things. Our infrastructure is crumbling, the middle class is being obliterated and so on, yet all these people care about is intruding into peoples lives and forcing them to bend to their oppressive rules. Every poll shows that American’s believe in a woman’s right to choose. We’ve been hijacked by a small, but powerful group of old men and religious nuts who’re not doing the will of the people.

    If Evangelicals had ultimate power, I have no doubt they’d institute laws just as horrific as what we see in the Middle East. The religious right and their political lapdogs must be stopped. A group of people who think God personally speaks to them shouldn’t be taken seriously and booted out of political influence. If they turn the microscope in on themselves, they’d see a bunch of hypocrites, bigots, zealots and mini dictators. Alas, they continue winning elections due to the ignorant masses who buy their obvious lies.

  11. Just want to point out, to be fair, Republicans also call out corrupt Televangelists.
    Personally, I believe in Pro-Choice. But would I ever wish that choice on anyone I love? No…It’s heartbreaking to think about.

  12. Our narrator is a woman. She's black. And she has a British accent. So whatever this video says is true. Trump 2020.

  13. Look into Roe V Wade and the 12-15 year gap to a lowering crime rate.
    fancy that unwanted people turn out to be bad to and for society.

  14. It lured the "single issue voter" out of the woods.
    People who who would vote against their own interests, but you know…"feelings"…

  15. Extremely informative
    People need to understand the way they are manipulated for power
    This has nothing to do with health only power

  16. Few people even thought about abortion until the Republicans brought it up. The idea, or the abortion option was all of a sudden planted within the psyche of many more potential mothers because the extra press and advertisement, the issue was given.

  17. Anybody else catch the fact that she's suggesting the anti-abortion arguments are only about religion, not scientific evidence or moral principles? Of course she stays away from saying anything like that cause it doesn't fit with her liberal and leftist agendas.

    Typical.

    Hope you all caught that.

  18. How old would your kid be now? Would you love their spouse & your grandkids? I wonder what they would accomplish in their life. Bet they'd love you & look forward to visiting on the holidays.

  19. Before I go through the comments I am guessing christian is said x215 times now lets start and if people know why they want dead babies it would make you sick.

  20. Abortion was manipulated from day One. Check where the law came to be and how the woman Norma was manipulated. She didnt even have an abortion hersemf. She gave her baby in adoption. This has been politically manipulated from the very beginning.

  21. Crazy pro life proponents, like their GOP counterparts are going to be a blip in our history. They're wrong and will become a laughing stock in the future as they are now with the majority of the country.

  22. Whether pro-life or pro-choice, both movements have failed when the average in the US is that 1 out of 3 women will have an abortion.
    Evidently, the pro-lifers have failed. But pro-choicers as well, because they keep talking about women's right, how about the right for a woman to never have to make that decision?
    The problem with this issue, it's that it deals with the outcome, but real education and prevention is never on the table.
    Both movements should have the same objective: reducing the number of women having to make that decision. Because, let's be clear about this, you don't ever look at a little girl thinking "I sure hope she'll have an abortion someday".

  23. Well all right, Babies rock and roll!
    Read the :Q-72.
    Planned Parent hood, once you make the choice to come, you plan to be a Parent!

  24. I used to live in the land of falwell.
    The hypocrisy was overwhelming on all fronts.

    Bottom Line, stay out of my womb . . .

  25. It's not Pro-life if they don't actually care about the people's lives. It's Pro-birth call it what it is.

  26. Pro-life is misleading……….it is a pro-baby movement………because you can be opposed to abortion and support the death penalty for crimes like child murder, mass murder etc……………….but it is a pro-baby movement that dictates that anyone who does not have a sufficient reason to abort their baby should not be allowed to do so. That should not be a 'right'.

  27. Im a conservative and I lean towards pro-life, but can we have a real conversation with no pretence?? When a women gets pregnant and the pregnancy is unwanted, does the government send agents with a gun to her head convincing her to have an abortion?? The answer is NO!!

    The most common reasons are:

    women say a child would dramatically change their life in this way,

    women say they can’t afford a baby at thw time of pregnancy,

    women say they don’t want to be a single mom or are having relationship problems

    women say they have decided they’ve completed their childbearing years

    say they are not ready for another child

    say they do not want people to know they had sex or got pregnant

    husband wanted her to have an abortion

    say parents wanted her to have an abortion

    Women say possible problems with their health

    Making abortion illegal wont fix these issues. WHEN WE AS A SOCIETY CAN IMPROVE THESE REASONS, THATS WHEN THE ABORTION RATE WILL DECREASE.

    -A FELLOW CONSERVATIVE

  28. President Trump was not double minded in 1999 and he hasn't changed his stand on Abortion. I'm thankful for everyone who were pro-choice and have now become pro-life. It's not a choice…..It's an innocent, precious baby.

  29. The Guardian: Injecting yourself with dog insulin? Mmm Just a normal day in Alejandra Ocasio Cortez "farting cows" ? America

  30. I don't think there's ever been a group of people quite so depraved as American evangelicals. That culture really must be stamped out and consigned to the ash heap of history where it belongs.

  31. Stop killing women teens and babies.
    Stop making unhappy unhealthy poor illiterate abusive homes.
    Outlawing medical kills.

  32. This has to do with the dropping population of the Caucasian race in America and frankly worldwide. This has nothing to do with concern for the lives of babies.

  33. The President and his Evangelicals share the same thing in common; they believe Christianity is there to serve 'them'.
    When a deceitful bigot is your chosen role model, heresy is the faith you truly practice.

  34. Trump is a ‘racist’: Beto O’Rourke links president’s rhetoric to El Paso shooting. At less than 5% in the latest polls for POTUS under the Socialist banner the Democratic Party. Someone should Robert Francis O'Rourke no one is listening to him starting with The Guardian tabloid. ?

  35. Abortion is not a religious matter. You can make the choice to have sex using condoms, if you do not, it is just your responsibility. Disrupting life, yes, that is a crime.

  36. They finally came to realize that if they keep killing their own unborn babies they're going to be a minority soon.

  37. I am deeply offended by this video you're making it sound like evangelicals are being brain washed. And also you make it sound like Ronald Reagan was only pro life because of the votes.

  38. Not sure how this video dismisses the fact that abortion is ending an innocent human life. I could care less what ones religious denomination thinks, in fact, I'm pretty sure 7th-day Adventist agree with abortion. That doesn't make it right.

  39. Because, if you haven’t noticed THIS GENERATION has more passion for what they believe in!! We weren’t alive back then!

  40. This was an unsympathetic telling of the story. What scares me is that both sides refuse to tell sympathetic stories of one another's convictions and journeys. This perpetuates the hatred that poisons the lot of us.

  41. The fact that the far-right in the United States shamelessly continues to rekindle the extremely divisive culture wars truly makes me sick to my stomach.

  42. Prolife is so sanctimonious. People who dont care about the quality of life want to force women to birth children they dont want and should not have. Provide they survive the birth who is going to adopt these children.

  43. Things in Afghanistan must be going much worse than we're being told as it appears the Taliban make the laws in American now.

  44. People in Britain do not realise that in New York, you can abort a baby at nine months, even after the baby has been born live. That is very definitely murder.
    People really need to do their homework and check this out, however, google has been found to be left leaning, so don’t expect to find this information easily.

  45. This video is another reason why I wish the phrase "separation of church and state" was in the American constitution. Amazing that a small group of men convinced millions to be led by the nose.

  46. Free abortion on request.
    That's what should be done. Overpopulation is one of the greatest threats to humanity – thanks to BS religion, it continues to be.

  47. So when conservatives bring the bad ethics of a societal norm into politics is manipulative, but when the left does it it's progressive ?

  48. "I don't want everybody to vote. Elections are not won by a majority of the people. They never have been from the beginning of our country and they are not now. As a matter of fact, our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down." – Paul Weyrich

  49. White, black, Male, female……. All walks of people know that abortion is murder. Some people are just so caught up in their own ego's that they become completely self-absorbed.

    Life wasn't meant to be easy. You just have to play the hand that you're dealt and the rest will fall into place ?

  50. I live in the Northeast, in New England. In the south they are chewing each other up. For 40 years but they’ve been voting against their best interest. They do not put money into their schools or their hospitals. They expect the federal government to do that. All they do is vote in people who steal in steel and they are trying to run this country in the ground. And now with Trump in office all the Federal money is being cut. That’s what they wanted they voted him in and now they get what they deserve. Here in the Northeast we’re fine. Because we vote the right people in office. We vote for people who are pro-choice we vote for people who are against discrimination we vote for people to help families we have better hospitals Boston Massachusetts is the best hospital in the world we have better teachers up here.We have better educated Shermans Army had it right.

  51. One more thing we make sure we keep religion at bay. We don’t let Religion sneak into our schools we don’t like religion sneak into our politics separation of church and state and we take that to heart up here

  52. Ragen signed bill that will allow abortion for a girl under 18 who was raped and only if the baby was a physical or mental harm for the mother

  53. I am against abortion. It is taking life. The fact that a moral wrong is a political point is despicable. Anyone taking a side (either side) for political gain is wrong. The only thing is…I believe that if one switches to a pro life stance, it may be because of a better understanding of what abortion is, how it works, or the political manipulations and lies from planned parenthood (highly corrupt and profit driven organization).

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