In 1969 … Nixon strategist Kevin Phillips offered a blueprint for crushing the Democrats’ New Deal coalition by recruiting Southerners and Catholics to the G.O.P. …
Nixon’s advisers urged him to reconsider his position on abortion and family planning. … Observing that abortion was “a rising issue and a gut issue with Catholics,” Buchanan wrote, “If the President should publicly take his stand against abortion, as offensive to his own moral principles … then we can force Muskie [one of Nixon’s potential democratic challengers up for the nomination] to make the choice between his tens of millions of Catholic supporters and his liberal friends at the New York Times and the Washington Post.”
A week later, in a statement to the Department of Defense, Nixon borrowed the language of the Catholic Church to speak of his “personal belief in the sanctity of human life—including the life of the yet unborn.”…
Abortion wasn’t a partisan issue until Republicans made it one. In June of 1972, a Gallup poll reported that sixty-eight per cent of Republicans and fifty-nine per cent of Democrats agreed that “the decision to have an abortion should be made solely by a woman and her physician.” Fifty-six per cent of Catholics thought so, too.
“The Politics of Planned Parenthood and Women’s Rights;” The New Yorker
Literally all of the ~~moral~~ bullshit the GOP puts out about abortion has its origins in a Nixon campaign strategy designed to get him to run against a weak candidate: McGovern. Nixon wanted to run against him, rather than Muskie, so he came up with some moral crap about abortion to destabilize Muskie’s support base, which ensured that McGovern received the nomination and ran against Nixon.
He didn’t even really believe in what he was saying. And he politicized it. And forty years later, look at the mess we have now.