On Jan. 23, 1973, when the Supreme Court struck down state criminal abortion laws in Roe v. Wade, President Richard M. Nixon made no public statement. But privately, newly released tapes reveal, he expressed ambivalence.
Nixon worried that greater access to abortions would foster "permissiveness," and said that "it breaks the family." But he also saw a need for abortion in some cases, such as interracial pregnancies.
"There are times when an abortion is necessary. I know that. When you have a black and a white," he told an aide, before adding: "Or a rape.