unborn childUnborn Child is the title of an album boldly released in 1974 by the rock duo Seals and Crofts at the height of their popularity. Ever hear of it? Didn’t think so.

Even if you were a pop music fan during the 1970’s you likely have no recollection of the album, or its title song, in large part because Unborn Child was boycotted. But chances are good you’ve heard Seals and Crofts’ big hits, which include gold Billboard singles like “Summer Breeze,” “Diamond Girl,” and “We May Never Pass this Way Again.” In fact, you can still hear these songs today on oldies radio stations, or in grocery stores, elevators, or any establishment where soft-rock oldies are played.

The lyrics of the song “Unborn Child” were offered to Seals and Crofts by Lana Day Bogan, the wife of the duo’s recording engineer. She had seen a documentary about abortion and was moved to write a poem that began:

Oh little baby, you’ll never cry, nor will you hear a sweet lullabye.

Oh unborn child, if you only knew just what your momma was plannin’ to do.
You’re still a-clingin’ to the tree of life, but soon you’ll be cut off before you get ripe.
Oh unborn child, beginning to grow inside your momma, but you’ll never know.
Oh tiny bud, that grows in the womb, only to be crushed before you can bloom.

Mama stop! Turn around, go back, think it over.
Now stop, turn around, go back, think it over.
Stop, turn around, go back think it over.

At Bogan’s suggestion, Jim Seals put the poem to music.

As you can imagine, coming in the wake of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision, Unborn Child was greeted by a lot of raw emotion. And the album was quickly suppressed. There were boycotts of the song by radio stations and picketing of Seals and Crofts concerts by pro-abortion groups. As we all know, the Roe decision not only legalized abortion, but served to stoke bitterness and deep division throughout American society.

Dash Crofts told interviewer Bill de Young in 1993: “Warner Brothers warned us against it. They said, ‘This is a highly controversial subject, we advise that you don’t do this.’ And we said, ‘But you’re in the business to make money; we’re doing it to save lives. We don’t care about the money.’”

According to de Young, “The critics tore the record to pieces, and Seals and Crofts with it. . . . Unborn Child hurt Seals and Crofts’ reputation—it was as if they had crossed that thin line, that sacrosanct divider that separated their music from their religious beliefs.”

Jim Seals and Dash Crofts wrote their music to reflect—though never to proselytize—their Bahà’í faith, which sees all humanity as connected in one family. They understood the unborn child to be simply a part of that universal whole. But their detractors, well, not so much.

The controversy definitely lowered the profile of Seals and Crofts and slowed down their career. Yes, they were able to follow Unborn Child with a few more albums and a few more songs that charted well at a time when the pro-abortion lobby was just gearing up to silence all opposition. Nevertheless, Unborn Child was very politically incorrect and Seals and Crofts paid the price for that.

Forty years later, the decision to release Unborn Child looks even more courageous and wise. As the nation continues to rethink the wisdom of Roe v. Wade, we might wonder: Could Unborn Child experience a rebirth?

In essence, Seals and Crofts chose to shun worldly success in favor of performing a beautiful act of mercy. As Crofts himself said, “I think we got more good results out of it than bad because a lot of people called us and said, ‘We’re naming our children after you, because you helped us decide to save their lives with that song.’ That was very fulfilling to us.”

Indeed, what a magnificent choice.

Books on the topic of this essay may be found in The Imaginative Conservative Bookstore. Republished with gracious permission of Human Life Review.

The Imaginative Conservative applies the principle of appreciation to the discussion of culture and politics—we approach dialogue with magnanimity rather than with mere civility.

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