by Steven Ertelt
August 15, 2005
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — Leading pro-life Democrats are continuing their efforts to gain respect within their party and reform the image most Americans have of it as one that backs unlimited abortion. Following a meeting with DNC chairman Howard Dean, pro-life Democratic lawmakers met with the top Democrats in the House and Senate to convey their message.
Rep. Jim Oberstar, a Minnesota Democrat who has been a longtime pro-life leader in the House of Representatives was one of the lawmakers in attendance. He hopes the party will move beyond its pro-abortion stance and welcome dissenters.
"I just feel that the party needs to be neutral on the subject, or at least welcoming of those who have a different view," Oberstar said.
Pro-life Democrats are still smarting from the 1992 Democratic Convention, where party leaders prohibited pro-life Pennsylvania Gov. Robert Casey from addressing attendees on the issue of abortion.
"It was an unnecessary poke in the eye," Oberstar told the Associated Press.
Casey died in 2000 and his son, Bob Casey, is the Democratic Party’s choice to run against incumbent pro-life Sen. Rick Santorum for Pennsylvania’s senate seat in 2006.
Despite the meeting with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Dean, DNC spokesman Josh Earnest said he doesn’t expect the party to alter it’s pro-abortion stance, though he, too, wants to broaden it’s base of support.
"The Democratic Party is a pro-choice party. That has not changed. But we can’t afford to write people off," Earnest told AP. "We need to reframe the debate."
Oberstar said that is crucial if Democrats want to retake control of the House and Senate. He told AP when he was first elected to Congress 30 years ago, there were 138 pro-life Democrats. The number has dropped to 38 and many pro-life Democrats have become Republicans since then.
"Those other 100 districts haven’t stopped sending representatives to Congress," Oberstar said. "They’re just not sending Democrats."