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Jimmy Carter on Abortion

President of the U.S., 1977-1981


OpEd: Pro-life to pro-lifers; pro-choice to pro-choichers

In 1976, I was still a Democrat. The Democratic Party, while it was then edging toward an abortion-on-demand stance, still allowed room in its ranks for pro-life leaders. Carter himself proved to be a clover waffle in the abortion issue, suggesting that he was pro-life to the pro-lifers and prochoice to the prochoicers--and yet the media, always Carter friendly, never nailed him on his hypocrisy. So in our naiveté, we failed to realize that Carter was playing a duplicitous double game. And the Republican Party, meanwhile, still seemed at that time to be dominated by defenders of the proabortion stance.

Yet back in the seventies, the parties had not yet sorted themselves out on the rival issue of abortion. So in 1976, many pro-life and socially conservative Americans could be found conscientiously voting for the Carter-Mondale ticket, thinking they were voting pro-life. And Marcus and I did more than that; we helped on his campaign, handing out fliers and making phone calls.

Source: Core of Conviction, by Michele Bachmann, p. 58 , Nov 21, 2011

No federal funding for abortions

I am convinced that every abortion is an unplanned tragedy, brought about by a combination of human errors and this has been one of the most difficult moral and political issues I have had to face. As president, I accepted my obligation to enforce the "Roe v. Wade" Supreme Court ruling, and at the same time attempted in every way possible to minimize the number of abortions.

One of my best-remembered and most often quoted remarks came in July 1977, when I defended my lack of support for federal funds to be used for abortions among poor mothers, even though wealthier women could afford to have their pregnancies terminated. Without any careful forethought, I responded to a question on this issue by saying, "Life is often unfair."

Source: Our Endangered Values, by Jimmy Carter, p. 72 , Sep 26, 2006

Minimize abortions, but no constitutional amendment

Q: In the nearly 200-year history of the Constitution, there have been only 25 amendments, most of them on issues of broad principle. Now we have proposed amendments in highly specialized causes like abortion.

CARTER: I think abortion is wrong. I don't think the Government ought to do anything to encourage abortion, but I don't favor a constitutional amendment on the subject. But short of a constitutional amendment, and within the confines of a Supreme Court ruling, I will do everything I can to minimize the need for abortions with better sex education, family planning, with better adoptive procedures. I personally don't believe that the Federal Government ought to finance abortions, but I draw the line and don't support a constitutional amendment. I honor the right of people to seek a constitutional amendment on abortion, but I won't actively work for its passage.

FORD: I support the Republican platform which calls for a constitutional amendment that would outlaw abortions.

Source: The Third Carter-Ford Presidential Debate , Oct 22, 1976

Discourage abortion by providing family planning

Carter believes that abortion is wrong and that the government should try to discourage it by providing better sex education, family planning, and adoption procedures. However, he does not favor a constitutional amendment that would overturn the Supreme Court ruling permitting abortions.
Source: Jimmy Who?, by Leslie Wheeler, p.182 , Jan 1, 1976

  • Click here for definitions & background information on Abortion.
  • Click here for VoteMatch responses by Jimmy Carter.
  • Click here for AmericansElect.org quiz by Jimmy Carter.
Other past presidents on Abortion: Jimmy Carter on other issues:
Former Presidents:
George W. Bush(R,2001-2009)
Bill Clinton(D,1993-2001)
George Bush Sr.(R,1989-1993)
Ronald Reagan(R,1981-1989)
Jimmy Carter(D,1977-1981)
Gerald Ford(R,1974-1977)
Richard Nixon(R,1969-1974)
Lyndon Johnson(D,1963-1969)
John F. Kennedy(D,1961-1963)
Dwight Eisenhower(R,1953-1961)
Harry S Truman(D,1945-1953)

Past Vice Presidents:
V.P.Dick Cheney
V.P.Al Gore
V.P.Dan Quayle
Sen.Bob Dole
V.P.Walter Mondale

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Page last updated: Jul 05, 2014