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Lot 255

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Fantastic Reagan Letter on Abortion

"I’m convinced in my own mind that logic & morality give the Mother the right to terminate in defense of her life & health.... However no such logic can justify taking the life of the unborn child because it might be born less than perfect."

California governor Ronald Reagan thanks his friend and surgeon who removed a growth from his lip for an article on abortion.

RONALD REAGAN, Autograph Letter Signed, to Richard Barton, [May 26, 1967]. 1 p., 8ʺ x 10ʺ. Date written in red ink, then crossed out in blue ink; excellent. Ex. The Forbes Collection.

Complete Transcript
Richard Barton MD
9730 Wilshire / L.A.

Dear Dick
Thanks so much for your note & for the article believe me it was a big help. As you can imagine I’ve really been doing some soul searching on this problem. I’m convinced in my own mind that logic & morality give the Mother the right to terminate in defense of her life & health, just as we recognize our inalienable right to self defense. I can grant this same right in my mind with the child or woman the victim of rape & incest. However no such logic can justify taking the life of the unborn child because it might be born less than perfect.
Again thanks & Best Regards

Historical Background:

Ronald Reagan was opposed to abortion on demand, though he accepted it in cases of rape, incest, or where the life of the mother was in danger. In May 1967, as governor of California, he signed the Therapeutic Abortion Act to reduce "back-room abortions" in the state. He later regretted signing the law, believing doctors had misinterpreted it to perform more abortions than necessary. In 1983, he became the only president to publish a book while in office, when he published Abortion & the Conscience of the Nation.

Ronald Reagan (1911-2004) was born in Illinois and graduated from Eureka College in 1932. After working as a radio announcer for several years, he took a screen test in 1937 that led to a contract with Warner Brothers Studios and an acting career in film and television. Reagan served as governor of California from 1967 to 1975. He won election over two-term incumbent Pat Brown. As governor, he opposed the idea of the welfare state and favored less government regulation of the economy. After an unsuccessful attempt to recall him in 1968, Reagan won reelection in 1970 for a second term. He did not seek reelection in 1974, but went on in 1976 to seek the Presidency. He narrowly lost the Republican nomination to incumbent Gerald Ford, but went on to win in 1980 over Democratic incumbent Jimmy Carter to become the 40th President of the United States (1981-1989).

Richard T. Barton (1919-1981) was a physician in Los Angeles and Beverly Hills, California. He specialized in head and neck surgery and was a clinical professor of surgery at the UCLA School of Medicine. In 1967, he removed a benign growth from near the lip of California Governor Ronald Reagan. In 1960, Barton married Marilyn Sue Bowman (1932-2007), one of the first female attorneys in California.

Ex. The Forbes Collection. Malcolm Forbes (1919-1990), American owner-publisher of Forbes magazine, and consummate collector, amassed one of the most substantial and broad collections of such breadth and depth that it filled a half-dozen residences, and sat on three continents. Many of his manuscripts were sold in multi-million-dollar sales by Christie's in the early 2000s. The Forbes name is considered to be the apex of provenance when attached to an item like the one above. We are honored to have been chosen by the family to sell at auction the substantial balance of the collection.

This item comes with a Certificate from John Reznikoff, a premier authenticator for both major 3rd party authentication services, PSA and JSA (James Spence Authentications), as well as numerous auction houses.


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