'Exiled' Democratic Party Urged from Within to Reform on Abortion
by Bill Fancher and Jody Brown
December 14, 2004
(AgapePress) - A group of pro-life Democrats has issued a call to its party to modify its stance on the life issue, or run the risk of suffering more defeats in future elections.
Kristen Day, executive director of Democrats For Life of America, says her party had better read the handwriting on the wall before it is too late, and change its position on the life issue. Election 2004, she says, shows the Democratic Party lost a portion of its constituents because of the pro-life issue.
"[W]e really need to rethink our position," Day says, adding that the focus needs to be on an aspect upon which pro-abortion and pro-life Democrats can agree. "And that is on making abortion rare," she says.
The Democrats For Life spokeswoman says she has heard from many pro-life Democrats around the country who say they would "love to come back to the party" if it would just move away from its strong pro-abortion stance. As she notes: "They do vote for Republicans right now -- but they want to come home."
Day is optimistic about how party leadership will respond to her group's call. "I think the leadership knows that if we're going to be a majority party again, that we need to really respect the views of those in our party who don't necessarily agree with supporting abortion on demand," she says.
A Suggestion or Two
Two Pepperdine University professors, one of them a member of Democrats For Life, have some practical suggestions for the Democratic Party, should it choose to entertain the idea of taking a less-stringent stance on the "right" to abortion. Writing for the Chicago Tribune, J. Christopher Soper and Paul J. Contino note that the official 2004 party platform states that abortion should be legal, safe, and rare.
"Yet the party has consistently ignored the third of these imperatives," they say. "Now is the time to attend to it, and the party can do so in at least two ways."
The first, they say, would be to support a partial-birth abortion ban, which "would begin to overcome voters' skepticism about the party's values and motives." They note that three quarters of voters who want abortion to be illegal under at least some circumstances have decided the Democratic Party does not share their values.
The second step they suggest would be for the party to embrace the Bush administration's faith-based initiative program -- but in a way that guarantees a woman facing an unwanted pregnancy will have an opportunity to consider options such as financial aid or adoption counseling.
The two Pepperdine professors contend the GOP has never offered such support, and that the Democrats "can boldly do so" with the assistance of faith-based programs. They also contend their party has been "too willing" to accept the arguments by the American Civil Liberties Union that such programs cross of the wall of separation between church and state.
"Enacting these two positions would be smart politics," Soper and Contino write. "The result will strengthen support for the party among centrist voters, especially religious ones, who increasingly feel that the Democrats do not represent their values."
They conclude by comparing the current dilemma facing the Democratic Party with that of the Old Testament people of Israel. "The Democratic party now faces a period of political exile -- and this could be a great gift," they state. "In exile, the Israelites discovered what it meant to be God's people. In exile, the Democrats may rediscover what it means to speak for the values of the majority of Americans."