by Steven Ertelt
December 14, 2004
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — Former presidential candidate John Kerry surprised key Democratic Party activists in a meeting shortly after Thanksgiving where he said the party needs to do more to moderate its image on abortion and reach out to pro-life voters.
That comment surprised and shocked many in the room, according to a new Newsweek report.
At the meeting, held at the headquarters of the AFL-CIO, Ellen Malcolm, president of Emily’s List, a pro-abortion political action committee, asked Kerry about the direction of the party.
Kerry told those in attendance that the party needed to find new ways to reach out to voters who don’t like abortion. He also said Democrats need to welcome more pro-life candidates into the party.
"There was a gasp in the room," new NARAL president Nancy Keenan told Newsweek.
The Democratic Party is at a crossroads on the issue of abortion.
Controlled by abortion advocacy groups like NARAL and Planned Parenthood, the party has put forward pro-abortion candidates for decades. Every election cycle the abortion issue breaks in favor of Republican presidential candidates because of their pro-life view.
In fact, the issue of abortion gave a boost to the president as a post-election poll of voters by Wirthlin Worldwide shows that a majority of Americans are pro-life and the abortion issue gave pro-life candidates such as President Bush a twelve percent advantage.
Some party leaders are beginning to sense that a change is necessary.
Senate Democrats have elected Harry Reid as their new leader. Though Reid is not pro-life, he does vote pro-life on abortion-related Congressional legislation about half the time and is considered by pro-life Democrats a step in the right direction.
He and pro-abortion House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi have endorsed pro-life former Indiana Congressman Tim Roemer to take the helm of the party.
Democrats for Life president Kristen Day says her party better wake up to the face that abortion is costing it votes before it’s too late.
"[W]e really need to rethink our position," Day says. "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."
However, leading abortion advocates are chagrined by these events and blame Kerry, who refused to support even a modest ban on partial-birth abortion or not using tax dollars to pay for them, for not doing enough to tout his pro-abortion views during the campaign.
Planned Parenthood president Gloria Feldt told Newsweek that Kerry "did not help the cause."
That comment echoes others made by leaders of pro-abortion groups shortly after the election.
Feminist Majority President Eleanor Smeal said Kerry did a poor job of emphasizing his position in favor of abortion. While Kerry spoke about the issue directly to abortion advocates, he did not clarify his abortion position among the general voting population and let Bush dominate the terms of the debate, she contended.
Some leading pro-abortion lawmakers like Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu, Arkansas Senators Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor, and Indiana Sen. Evan Bayh are forming a centrist group to try to moderate the party’s view on abortion and other issues.
But one abortion advocate says she wants nothing to do with that.
"If we try to be fake Republicans, that’s not going to work," Colorado Rep. Diana DeGette, co-chair of the House pro-abortion caucus, told Newsweek. "It would be a cynical political move."