On Monday night’s episode of Full Frontal, Samantha Bee explained the bizarrely casual origins of the pro-life movement.
After the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision, Bee says, Evangelicals were undecided on — and in some cases supportive of — granting women abortion access. Their zealous abortion stance didn’t exist until a few years later.
It happened on an actual conference call one day: After having mobilized conservative Christians to support segregationist Bible colleges, religious leaders needed to push another political issue. Someone on the call said, “How about abortion?” — and that was it. “Were they founding a movement or deciding what toppings to get on their pizza?” Bee asks.
She talks to the filmmaker Frank Schaeffer, who made the movement’s first anti-abortion propaganda videos. “Most Evangelical leaders didn’t want anything to do with [the issue of abortion],” he says, calling his work “the single greatest regret of my life.” “They wanted to just preach Jesus … We had to talk them into it.”
Anti-abortion ads used powerful, nauseating metaphors in commercials and cartoons and on cereal boxes, showing factory workers chucking baby dolls down chutes and real-life babies trapped in rabbit cages.