Ted Kennedy’s Passing Highlights Democrats Who Have Flip-Flopped on Abortion
by Steven Ertelt
August 26, 2009
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — Ted Kennedy, the iconic Massachusetts senator, died late Tuesday night at home in Hyannis Port after a long battle with cancer. Elected first in 1962, the 77-year-old liberal lion reminds many political observers of the changes on abortion among many members of the Democratic Party.
To anyone who follows abortion politics today, Kennedy is not only a reliable pro-abortion vote, but a forceful advocate of abortion.
He repeatedly has voted against all attempts to stop taxpayer financing of abortions and opposed the ban on partial-birth abortions. Kennedy regularly receives 0 percent records from the National Right to Life Committee.
Although his health prevented him from casting any votes on pro-life issues this session of Congress, Kennedy received a 14 percent rating from 2007-2008 from NRLC, agreeing with the pro-life group only on allowing states to provide health insurance coverage for unborn children in their SCHIP programs.
Kennedy’s abortion advocacy was so pervasive prior to his death that the Senate government-run health care bill that bears his name specifically allows abortion funding and mandates that Planned Parenthood abortion centers be included.
But Kennedy’s position wasn’t always in line with abortion advocacy groups.
He is one of many formerly pro-life Democrats who changed with the political winds as the party moved from one influenced by pro-life southern Democrats and pro-life Catholics to one dominated by the pro-abortion feminist groups like NARAL and Emily’s List.
Kennedy displayed an eloquent pro-life position in 1971, prior to Roe v. Wade, when he wrote a letter to Catholic League member Tom Dennelly.
While the deep concern of a woman bearing an unwanted child merits consideration and sympathy, it is my personal feeling that the legalization of abortion on demand is not in accordance with the value which our civilization places on human life. Wanted or unwanted, I believe that human life, even at its earliest stages, has certain rights which must be recognizedthe right to be born, the right to love, the right to grow old," he wrote.
On the question of the individuals freedom of choice there are easily available birth control methods and information which women may employ to prevent or postpone pregnancy. But once life has begun, no matter at what stage of growth, it is my belief that termination should not be decided merely by desire," he added.
When history looks back to this era it should recognize this generation as one which cared about human beings enough to halt the practice of war, to provide a decent living for every family, and to fulfill its responsibility to its children from the very moment of conception," he concluded.
In 2005, Catholic League president William Donohue talked about Kennedy’s transformation on abortion.
"Sadly for him, history will look back at this era and recognize that he didn’t care enough about human beings to take responsibility for children from the very moment of conception," he said.
Kennedy’s legacy could be one celebrated by the majority of Americans who take a pro-life view on abortion. But, like other pro-life Democrats who lost their way over the years, he will be remembered as a turncoat who put politics over principle.
Other prominent pro-life Democrats who eventually abandoned the courage of their convictions include former president Bill Clinton, current Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin, civil rights activist Jesse Jackson, and "common ground" congressman Tim Ryan.
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