Watch Samantha Bee Explain How the Anti-Abortion Movement Really Started

Watch Samantha Bee Explain How the Anti-Abortion Movement Really Started

On Monday's Full Frontal, comedian Samantha Bee threw down some truth on the history of the religious right's opposition to abortion — which apparently is anything but what you'd expect.  

Far from breathing fire the moment Roe v. Wade passed, in 1973, Evangelicals were initially ambivalent and even supportive of women's access to abortion services. "Religious liberty, human equality and justice are advanced by the Supreme Court abortion decision," W. Barry Garrett wrote in the Baptist Press, an official news outlet for the Southern Baptist Convention, in 1973.

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The words were read by Bee herself in "archival" footage from the 1970s. 

Bee then launched into an interview with filmmaker Frank Schaeffer, son of Christian theologian Francis Schaeffer, who called his role in creating the anti-abortion movement, "the single greatest regret of my life."

The younger Schaeffer spent part of his early career creating propaganda videos for the nascent anti-abortion movement, including a film called, Whatever Happened to the Human Race. The film was sent on a traveling roadshow across the country to convince Christian leaders that were agnostic on the issue. 

The propaganda effort looked something like this.

"Most evangelical leaders didn't want anything to do with [the issue of abortion]," said Schaeffer in the film. "They wanted to just preach Jesus. They thought politics was dirty. They didn't want anything to do with it. We had to talk them into it." 

But, of course, the political payoff proved too great to resist and abortion has since gone on to become one of the defining issues of the American culture wars. Today, Roe v. Wade remains a judicial litmus test for Republicans, with the GOP presumptive presidential nominee, Donald Trump, vowing to appoint judges who will overturn it. 

Watch the full clip here: