Howard Dean Named Democratic Party Chairman After Abortion Debate

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Feb 12, 2005   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Howard Dean Named Democratic Party Chairman After Abortion Debate Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
February 12, 2005

Washington, DC ( — Ending a chapter of what will likely be an ongoing internal debate within the Democratic Party on the issue of abortion, party leaders on Saturday named pro-abortion former Vermont Governor Howard Dean as the next national chairman.

The 447 members of the Democratic National Committee selected Dean on a voice vote after a protracted battle on abortion — where pro-abortion party activists booed pro-life candidate Tim Roemer and abortion advocacy groups worked overtime to defeat him.

Dean has talked about reaching out to pro-life Democrats to welcome them in the party, but after being named chairman he emphasized the party’s need to discuss its "core values" such as supporting abortion.

"The way I hope to deal with that problem, is not to abandon our core principles, but talk about them in a different way," he said.

Dean, who worked at Planned Parenthood during medical school, contended that Democrats are not pro-abortion but "we are the party in favor of allowing women to make up their own minds about their health care."

However, while governor, Dean put forward a state health care plan that proposed making abortions cheap and readily available.

"As Governor, Dean’s universal health care proposal included $5.00 abortions for everybody," Vermont Right to Life executive director Mary Beerworth told

Dean seemingly understands how his party’s losses at the polls require it to be more open to pro-life advocates.

"I have long believed that we ought to make a home for pro-life Democrats. The Democrats that have stuck with us, who are pro-life, through their long period of conviction, are people who are the kind of pro-life people that we ought to have deep respect for," he said on NBC’s "Meet the Press" last month.

Kristen Day, the director of Democrats for Life, told she hopes Dean will remember these comments as he directs the party.

"He has a real opportunity to open the big tent of our Party and let pro-life Democrats be heard," Day told "We are confident that understands this and will be open to working with us to rebuild our party by reaching out to pro-life Democrats."

However, the party is controlled by abortion advocacy groups like NARAL and Emily’s List and Democrats have lost the last two presidential elections, in part, because of their candidate’s unbending position in favor of abortion.

The issue of abortion gave a boost to President Bush. 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.

Dean takes the reins of the party over from outgoing chairman Terry McAuliffe, who backed abortion used the issue of abortion and judicial appointments to bash President Bush during the 2004 presidential race.