Unborn Child at Forty
Unborn 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.
* * * * *
—Stella Morabito is a senior contributor at The Federalist and has written in the past for the Human Life Review. She blogs at stellamorabito.net
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THANK YOU for posting this – I remember the song back when it came out – I was young but admired the group then and even more now given what has, and what unfortunately hasn’t, transpired since. Most musicians and actors are hypocrites and soul-less when it comes to standing up for what is right, and gutless when it comes to standing against something wrong. The abortion issue punctuates this point the most. It is despicable how those in positions of influence don’t care about human life at all in the name of “choice”( a complete bull-shit non position and argument). They will never acknowledge just what that choice is or what it truly entails – death of a human life. I pray more will stand up like Seals and Crofts, whether they are famous or not.
Thanks for finally writing about >Seals
& Crofts Unborn Child — the boycotted album – The Human Life Review <Loved it!
Thank you for this thoughtful post. I just found it, from December 2014, in April 2015. The album itself is superb in artistry, musicianship, song crafting, production, and diversity. Dash Crofts electric mandolin is extraordinary, for example. It is arguably one of their best albums in following two very fine popular ones (Summer Breeze and Diamond Girl), so of course it is ironic but not completely surprising that the title song and album title would provoke such strong reactions, particularly because the Baha’i Faith also might from certain points of view seem to promote what could be called “liberal views,” such as (again ironically) the equality of men and women and the equitable distribution of wealth in society. But it also espouses restraint on sexual activity. In fact, it does not submit to the “standards current amongst men” but only follows its own standards, on principle. Abortion, like violence against women, unjust treatment of minorities, and the like, could very well disappear as mankind adopts some of these principles, but only if there is a spiritual context and not merely some legislative action at the material level (equal pay, etc). It has to be grounded more deeply. We will see.
thanks for the information about seals and croft i knew in 1974 that it would be tough on their careers but they stood up for what they believed found a copy of un born child in discount bin at kmart in 1974 has only been played once but i thank them for their stand
I am a “product” of that era. Unborn Child woke me up the night before my scheduled abortion August 7 1976. After playing my 45 record (which I still have by the way) I told my parents that I had changed my mind about aborting after hearing this song and replayed it for them to hear hoping they would relate to it and change their mind about coercing me into aborting. Unfortunately I was taken the next morning for my scheduled appt by my dad and longtime steady boyfriend (my mom didn’t go to be with me stating “she had to go to work”. At 16 I was scared and confused. I still hear that sound of a slushy vacuum sucking my first child from me. I was cramping,felt sick,and am offered cookies and hot tea after the procedure. No one can comprehend my feelings after that day of horror. I’m now 55 and always wonder what if. My child would be 37 now and all I have are memories of that horrible day 5 girls at a time were taken in separate rooms to have our offspring vacuumed out of us like we were animals. No pictures but the mind plays it back like yesterday…
I know about letting parents push you into doing something you know is very wrong, but God forgives, I have a hard time forgiving myself for some of those, so I understand his it is to forgive others, yourself (and maybe in some cases for some and maybe myself subconsciously) God for letting it happen or having those people in my life to tempt me. I hope you have, anyway. We failed ourselves and another of so, and it was probably a demonic influence and/or human weakness talking us through the completion of our future regret, but God, who allows free will, lives us and wants us all the same. If we don’t forgive ourselves, we can fall into the same sins out of some fatalism-inspired despair. Psychologically, forgiveness is genius. We free ourselves of much baggage,
To those against Christian references, I’m sure there was forgiving by some individuals, but Christianity, despite many bad examples (but many shining ones, too), spread that for all, despite the worst stuff we could do to each other and loving one’s enemies. God bless you!
Just found this article in 2016. I recall hearing it so very many years ago and thought it should be played or required listening to by every person contemplating an abortion…In 1974 I was a young 18 year old and had just given birth to a 7 month premie…Ihad no idea of impact this song would make on their career, but I knew it made a strong impact on me…thank you Seals & Croft
I was 14 when this album came out. For some reason I bought it (I still have it too!), and it made me become pro-life. I still am, at 57, with 3 living children and 4 I lost to stillbirths (nothing cements your pro-life views like holding your own departed babies…no one can ever tell me they were not BABIES!)
This a very powerful song and should be heard by everyone.
I was a senior in high school the year the court legalized abortion. Two other classmates and I took the prolife side in the fall of 72 in our government class. The teacher was a pro abort and we got no help. We didn’t make much of a case. I knew abortion was wrong. I had seen the presentation in catechism class. I wish I had done a better job presenting our case.
Fast forward to 1974 an early Sunday morning in Oklahoma driving into the rising sun when a radio program featured the song. I still remember being excited thinking people would hear this song but I don’t ever remember hearing it again on the radio. I bought the album and the cover is on display in my den to this day.
While I was in the service, the priest and I presented a prolife talk to some high schoolers. The priest explained simply why it was wrong to kill and I played this song. A young lady came up to me after and told me she had been in favor of abortion but the song changed her.
In 1979 I was working at UTEP at the campus radio station and I got bold and decided to slip it in. It was not appreciated by many. I remember though getting a call from one supporter who reminded me of what happened to Seals and Croft after they wrote and recorded it. Radio administration counseled me about my CHOICE of playing the song and warned me. As the position was volunteer, I just quit.
This song is quite powerful. It explains why the proabort entertainment quickly aborted Seals and Crofts.
In 1974 or 75, S&C came to OKC for a concert. They introduced Unborn Child with a plea for a law requiring anyone seeking an abortion to be told that life begins at conception. Informed consent, what a concept. They hit the first note of the song and the crowd went wild.
It’s only the choice, compiled of half-truths, lies and general fear mongering that they give. Girl gets mentally and/or physically devastated. Unless it happens inside their place, what is it to these feminists? The safe-abortion narrative talks ; the patient walks.
Obviously, if she has a ruptured uterus, they would have to do something to stop it and find some way to stop the possibility of bad press.
It!s funny how they say they don’t want men telling them what they can or cannot do with their bodies, despite a bunch of mostly male people in black robes did just that and similar courts did that to legalize abortion in some states, beforehand.
I had my fifth birthday two days before abortion was legalized in 1973. I didn’t know anything about it at that time because obviously I was too young but I am very opposed to it and I have attended three or four Walks For Life in Lincoln, Nebraska where I used to live. I am glad that my two sisters, my brother and his wife agree with me that life begins at conception. People who call themselves “pro-choice” should stop and think how they would like to have been aborted. I read somewhere in one of my pro-life magazines or newsletters a long time ago that domestic violence and child abuse have increased ever since abortion was legalized. I wish the song “Unborn Child” had become as popular as “Summer Breeze” and “We May Never Pass this Way Again”. If it had, more babies could have been saved. All the famous musicians we listen to were unborn children themselves at one time. Everyone in the world should realize that. I wonder what Lyndon Johnson would have thought and said about baby murder being legalized. The day Roe vs. Wade was signed was the same day that he died.
I was 21 years old and stationed in California with the US army when I heard “Unborn Child” on the radio. It was a powerful message that affected me deeply. I heard the song played one more time before it disappeared, and at that point I suspected it had been banned. However, I never forgot the song and over the years I tried to get information about both it and the album. I was unsuccessful until fairly recently.
The artists’ principled position regarding abortion and what they endured professionally with the production of this song has earned my profound respect. My chief regret is that this life and death message was prevented from reaching more people. Perhaps now it will.
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God Bless Seals and Crofts!!! I just shared ‘Unborn Child’ on facebook.
I was pushed into abortion by my mother and by my closest friend. I know if they had been pro-life, that child would have been saved, because their influence was greatest on me. I regret to this moment that I didn’t have more courage to refuse. I mean, they wouldn’t have taken me kicking and screaming. Ultimately, the “choice” to go along with them was mine. I know, because of my tearful, sincere repentance (God knows!) many years later that He has forgiven me of this sin. I know it, and yet it still grieves me in many ways. I didn’t even want to think about it at all after, and pushed it to the margins of my mind, using the “pro-choice” mantra to silence my conscience, but the ongoing controversy would stir up those memories again and again. Most of all, the memories I had when all alone, with no one around, in the still of the night were the most poignant. I had to face the truth . I ended an innocent human life. By facing the sin and coming to God in repentance, I began to heal of many other sins. The abortion was pushed on me because my husband did not know about the affair that I had and we were going to get back together (we were estranged for awhile). It was all about covering up the truth, presenting a normal “front,” and hiding from society the proof of my misdeed. Saving my mother from the “embarrassment” that her daughter had committed adultery and would have a child from it. To her the public shame was the worst of it. She even threatened that “they” would take my existing child from me if I had a baby by another. It was a lie and I know now she didn’t even believe it herself, but she psychologically twisted my arm and made me worry about it. Still, if I’d had the courage of my conviction, I would have refused. My sister was supportive, but it wasn’t quite enough for me. For one thing, she and I were not that close. I was under a lot of pressure from those two women and she would have needed to stand up and protect me boldly. She merely said, “I wouldn’t do it, but it’s up to you.” My cousin was so “pro-choice” she made statements like, “God is a Democrat!”. I was so naive about politics and even about faith (a mixture of new age, eastern philosophy) My cousin told me that a soul does not enter a body until it takes its first breath, so I wasn’t actually “killing”. I’ve since learned, from seeing images of babies in the womb that they are alive, and however formed they are, they clearly wish to live. I so wish I could undo it all: certainly the adultery (!) – but even if I couldn’t go back in time that far, at least the abortion. I am 60 years old and went on to have a daughter 5 years after that, but I will never forget what happened and how I let people make up my mind for me. People I trusted, but who were ultimately wrong. I’m sure they mostly forgot about it – they never had to bear the burden of having one’s womb, a place of life, become a place of death. Two wrongs have never made a right and never will. Whenever I share these feelings on social media, in hopes of helping some confused person out there, there is inevitably some woman who, instead of arguing logically, will write something like, “Shut up. You’re an idiot.” The pressure on young women is even more intense today than it was back then. I just want to say, God is for life. Turn to Him and He will give you strength. God, the Creator, is for LIFE. He can save you and turn your whole life in the right direction. Cling to God, don’t let friends or family (no matter how they seem to mean well) turn your heart from God and the life within you. Raising a child is never easy, even if you have lots of money and lots of family support — it’s never easy, but it’s well worth it. Abortion activists act as though every unwanted pregnancy is saving a child from abuse. As if, if you don’t kill your baby in the womb, you will hurt it in a million ways after. They don’t know the power of God. Trust in Him. All the way. He is available, knocking on the doors of our hearts, all the way from the first cell to the last breath we take. There are many resources out there, more available now than there were for me – people out there who are pro-life who can be there for you, who can steer you in the right direction, too. It is true that you have a choice. So choose LIFE. <3
LOVE SEALS & CROFTS ! PRAISE GOD FOR THEIR STAND ON THE MURDER OF BABIES – ABORTION !
From Paul Martin:
I enjoyed your article about Seals & Crofts Unborn Child, especially after watching the recent movie “Unplanned”. I’ve been listening to it and sent a message to the 40 days organization featured in the movie, and Abby Johnson whose story the movie is based on. I guess there are just too many generations separating today’s pro life advocates from that great album. It was ahead of its time then but I’m hoping it can be revived for the more accepting environment of today.
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Just found this post and it fortified my spirit to know there are more people defending the lives of the unborn than I realized. It sometimes feels like a voice crying in the wilderness to protest the killing of innocents.
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