Wedge issues to unite the right

Laura Bassett, writing for, explains how the US Christian Right moved from being largely pro-abortion (in some cases because they were racist and believed abortion would limit the number of black children) to becoming militantly against it.

The short version: strategists used abortion as a wedge issue to rally the faithful and grow the Republican Party.

[Republican activist] Weyrich tried to make pornography the wedge issue, he tried prayer in schools, he tried the proposed Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution which would have guaranteed equal legal rights to women, and none of those issues really rallied his troops. “I was trying to get people interested in those issues and I utterly failed,” he later admitted at a conference in 1990. Then, six years after Roe v. Wade in 1973, Weyrich and Falwell noticed that conservatives were starting to get uncomfortable with the spike in legal abortions after the landmark case and with the sexual, social and economic freedom that reproductive rights had brought to women. So they went all in on making abortion a wedge issue that could marry the Christian right and the GOP.

Most people are in favour of a woman’s right to choose, but the Christian Right claims to speak for the majority. It funnels money into pressure groups and grass-roots groups, demonises the powerless, misrepresents facts, spreads blatant falsehoods – as the piece notes, that includes claiming that pro-choice people are murdering children after they’ve been born – and incites violence.

It’s so horrific, and so horrifically familiar.