Minnesota Pro-Life Democrats Launch Organizational Effort
by Steven Ertelt
August 24, 2003
St. Paul, MN (LifeNews.com) — With all of the nine Democratic presidential candidates taking a pro-abortion position, it’s easy to see why pro-life Democrats feel like their party has abandoned them.
A group of pro-life advocates in Minnesota, one of the few states where pro-life Democrats fare well in elections, has announced it is forming a Democrats for Life of Minnesota organization. The group hopes to move the state party away from its longstanding position backing abortion.
Janet Robert, an unsuccessful candidate for Congress in 2000, is heading up the organization.
The group held a kickoff Friday that featured numerous pro-life Democrat elected officials including pro-life Congressmen Jim Oberstar and Collin Peterson, St. Paul Mayor Randy Kelly, and state Sen. Dean Johnson.
"Our goal is to make sure people understand that you can be a Democrat and be prolife," Robert said. "There’s no reason the Democratic party should stand for abortion on demand when that is not the position of most Democrats."
Robert says her group wants to eliminate the litmus test the party has in favor of abortion for statewide candidates.
Although pro-life Democrats frequently run for Congress or the state legislature, none have run for Governor or the Senate.
Mike Erlandson, the head of the state Democratic Party says he doesn’t envision the group changing the state platform, which favors abortion.
"There wouldn’t be support for that. This party has been pro-choice in its platform for a long time," he said.
Johnson, the state Senator, said he is tired of hearing people say that because he is a Democrat, he must support abortion.
"The prolife movement is not an exclusive club to Republicans," said Johnson, a former Republican who maintained his opposition to abortion when he switched parties in 2000.
Johnson said the issue has hurt Democrats.
"In close races, it has cost us seats," he said, because many voters will vote for a pro-life Republican candidate over a pro-abortion Democrat simply because of the abortion issue.
Tim Stanley, executive director of Minnesota NARAL, says he doesn’t expect Democrats for Life to succeed because the party is so strongly in favor of keeping its pro-abortion position.
Leo LaLonde, president of Minnesota Citizens Concerned for Life, said pro-abortion Democrats have driven pro-life people from the party. LaLonde has been a longtime Democratic Party activist.
At the urging of abortion advocates, "a lot of our leaders have gone down the street" to join the GOP, he said.
Related web sites
Democrats for Life of America – https://www.democratsforlife.org