On the face of it, Samuel Alito’s draft decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, published by Politico last week, represents a vindication for the Religious Right, the culmination of nearly five decades of working to outlaw abortion. “I don’t know if this report is true,” said evangelist Franklin Graham of the draft opinion overturning abortion rights, “but if it is, it is an answer to many years of prayer.”
The history of that movement, however, is more complicated. White evangelicals in the 1970s did not mobilize against Roe v. Wade, which they considered a Catholic issue. They organized instead to defend racial segregation in evangelical institutions, including Bob Jones University.
To suggest otherwise is to perpetrate what I call the abortion myth, the fiction that the genesis of the Religious Right — the powerful evangelical political movement that has reshaped American politics over the past four decades — lay in opposition to abortion.
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