For the first time in two decades, the Democratic National Committee’s platform committee heard from pro-life advocates wanting the party to moderate its pro-abortion platform that also calls for taxpayer funding of abortions.
Not expecting the pro-abortion party to budge on its abortion position, the Washington Post reports that pro-life Democrats who testified focused on getting the party to acknowledge the dissenting pro-life Democrats within its ranks.
Janet Robert, who founded Minnesota’s progressive talk radio station AM 950, with talkers such as Ed Schultz and Thom Hartmann, was given seven minutes to make the case, and she used it to argue that the party simply cannot win back Congress without Democrats who differ from the ’08 platform on this one issue. She cited a slew of stats, including a Gallup poll from last year in which 44 percent of Democrats said abortion should only be legal “in a few circumstances.”
Robert urged the committee members to prove that Democrats are more tolerant and open-minded than their opponents across the aisle: “Republicans are continually telling people they are unwelcome because of who they are, what they believe or where they were born. We are not that party.”
So what response did Robert, who heads the Democrats for Life, get from the platform committee? Well, Barney Frank was nice — wait, did I bury the lede? — and Bob Wexler made some vaguely encouraging remarks. A few “pro-choice insiders” have been encouraging, too, says Catholic University’s Steve Schneck, and a couple of big party names are lending “quiet support.”
Before the hearing, Democrats for Life submitted language that was included in the 1996 Democratic Platform and was supported by pro-abortion President Bill Clinton. A growing number of national leaders, including former President Jimmy Carter, former Alabama Democratic Party Chair Joe Turham, and former Congressman and Ambassador Tony Hall all have expressed support for DFLA’s proposed language.
Although pro-life Democrats had a chance to have their say, they shouldn’t expect the party’s platform to do any more than, as it has in the past, welcome pro-life Democrats to what is otherwise a staunchly pro-abortion party.
Pro-abortion activist Nancy Keenan and Barney Frank, the longtime pro-abortion member of Congress from Massachusetts are two of the members of the Democratic Party’s platform committee that will meet in August. The platform committee chair is former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland, an abortion advocate who was opposed by pro-life advocates in his state. Committee members include pro-abortion former U.S. Rep. Tony Coelho, pro-abortion Rep. Barbara Lee, and pro-abortion former U.S. Rep. Robert Wexler, among others.
Keenan, Frank and the other abortion advocates join Planned Parenthood consultant Andy Grossman, who was named as the National Platform Director for the Democratic National Convention’s platform panel. Grossman is head of Grossman Solutions, a political consulting firm that the nation’s biggest abortion business has hired as a strategist for its political operations.
In contrast, the Republican Party recently announced pro-life Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell will head the GOP platform committee that will draft the new party platform when Republicans from across the country gather for the national convention later this summer.
The 2008 GOP platform contains strong pro-life statements of position on abortion.
“Faithful to the first guarantee of the Declaration of Independence, we assert the inherent dignity and sanctity of all human life and affirm that the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed,” the final GOP platform said. “We support a human life amendment to the Constitution, and we endorse legislation to make clear that the Fourteenth Amendment’s protections apply to unborn children,” it added.
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The proposed platform language DFLA suggested reads:
“We respect the conscience of each American and recognize that members of our Party have deeply held and sometimes differing positions on issues of personal conscience, like abortion and the death penalty. We recognize the diversity of views as a source of strength and we welcome into our ranks all Americans who may hold differing positions on these and other issues.
However, we can find common ground. We believe that we can reduce the number of abortions because we are united in our support for policies that assist families who find themselves in crisis or unplanned pregnancies. We believe that women deserve to have a breadth of options available as they face pregnancy: including, among others, support and resources needed to handle the challenges of pregnancy, adoption, and parenthood; access to education, healthcare, childcare; and appropriate child support. We envision a new day without financial or societal barriers to bringing a planned or unplanned pregnancy to term.”