Sargent Shriver, Only Pro-Life Democrat on Presidential Ticket, Dies

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jan 19, 2011   |   2:25PM   |   Washington, DC

Sargent Shriver, who has the distinction of being the only pro-life Democrat on a national presidential ticket in modern times, passed away after battling Alzheimer’s at the age of 95.

Shriver, an aide to and brother-in-law of President John F. Kennedy, was the founder of the Peace Corps one time Ambassador to France, and George McGovern’s sudden running mate in 1972.

Ronald J. Rychlak of Inside Catholic said Shriver was “one of the dwindling number of prominent pro-life liberals in the United States,” and his passing comes at a time when pro-life Democrats saw their stock lower significantly after some betrayed the pro-life movement over the Obamacare bill that allows abortion funding ad presents rationing and conscience rights concerns.

“Late in life, Sarge was active in the Special Olympics, a program founded by his wife for mentally disabled athletes,” Rychlak noted. “Sarge had high ideals, a strong Catholic piety, a solid commitment to family, and an unusual gift for leadership. He was also simply a great individual. May he rest in peace.

After the Roe v. Wade decision allowing virtually unlimited abortions, Shriver wrote to the National Catholic register that “the decision of the U.S. Supreme Court known as Roe v. Wade has gone down and will continue in an increasingly powerful downward slide.”

Feminists for Life director Serrin Foster emailed saying she appreciated Shriver’s pro-life commitment. Foster remembers meeting with Sargent and Eunice Kennedy Shriver when Feminists for Life opened its Washington, DC, office.

“We were taking on too many things, especially for an office with one staff member. They encouraged us to focus on one thing and do it well, as they had done, serving people with intellectual disabilities through the Special Olympics,” she said.

Foster and Feminists for Life’s Board took the Shrivers’ strategic and thoughtful guidance to heart, and the College Outreach Program soon became FFL’s flagship program. “We were very grateful for their long term support.”

When FFL first named Eunice Kennedy Shriver a Remarkable Pro-Life Woman in The American Feminist, its publication, in 1998, Foster recalls, “Sargent Shriver phoned the office and asked us to send over a stack of copies for his family and friends. He was very proud of his wife’s many contributions, and was really delighted that we recognized her in this meaningful way.”

After decades of service to the country, a family spokesperson announced in 2003 that Shriver suffered from Alzheimer’s disease.  His wife, Eunice Kennedy Shriver, died in 2008 at the age of 88.

“He was a gracious and elegant man,” said Foster.  “Kindness and thoughtfulness radiated from him. He understood privilege as a responsibility to serve.  Justice was the hallmark of his distinguished career–both in the private and public sectors. Throughout his life, those in greatest need were his priority–and he inspired us to make them ours.”