C. Everett Koop

March 02, 2013

Earlier this week, former U.S. Surgeon General C. Everett Koop died. An interesting figure who mixed faith and science, Koop initially faced intense criticism when President Ronald Reagan nominated him but eventually emerged as popular figure across partisan lines. Already known for his efforts to stop abortions, some liberals felt he was too political for the job. I briefly noted his importance on the abortion debate--and how that effort politically united conservative evangelicals and conservative Catholics--in my book on religion and politics (Presidential Campaign Rhetoric in an Age of Confessional Politics). Yet, Koop refused to use his office to push his personal convictions beyond what the science demonstrated. And as Surgeon General he showed his concern for life went far beyond abortion as he worked to reduce smoking and AIDS. With this fuller agenda, he showed that being pro-life is about more than just fighting abortion. Hopefully that important part of his legacy will live on.