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Statement About Policy on Abortions at Military Base Hospitals in the United States

April 03, 1971

HISTORICALLY, laws regulating abortion in the United States have been the province of States, not the Federal Government. That remains the situation today, as one State after another takes up this question, debates it, and decides it. That is where the decisions should be made.

Partly for that reason, I have directed that the policy on abortions at American military bases in the United States be made to correspond with the laws of the States where those bases are located. If the laws in a particular State restrict abortions, the rules at the military base hospitals are to correspond to that law.

The effect of this directive is to reverse service regulations issued last summer, which had liberalized the rules on abortions at military hospitals. The new ruling supersedes this--and has been put into effect by the Secretary of Defense.

But while this matter is being debated in State capitals and weighed by various courts, the country has a right to know my personal views.

From personal and religious beliefs I consider abortion an unacceptable form of population control. Further, unrestricted abortion policies, or abortion on demand, I cannot square with my personal belief in the sanctity of human life--including the life of the yet unborn. For, surely, the unborn have rights also, recognized in law, recognized even in principles expounded by the United Nations.

Ours is a nation with a Judeo-Christian heritage. It is also a nation with serious social problems--problems of malnutrition, of broken homes, of poverty, and of delinquency. But none of these problems justifies such a solution.

A good and generous people will not opt, in my view, for this kind of alternative to its social dilemmas. Rather, it will open its hearts and homes to the unwanted children of its own, as it has done for the unwanted millions of other lands.

Note: The statement was released at San Clemente, Calif.

Richard Nixon, Statement About Policy on Abortions at Military Base Hospitals in the United States Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/241211

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