“The Democratic Party is a party of inclusion. We respect the individual conscience of each American on this difficult issue, and we welcome all our members to participate at every level of our party.” — The 1996 Democratic Party Platform
“Inclusion”? On abortion? Oh, how times have changed.
Twenty years ago, the above statement about respecting “the individual conscience of each American” on abortion followed a pledge in the Democratic Party’s platform to “the right of every woman to choose consistent with Roe v. Wade.” While the party was firmly favored Roe’s imposition of abortion on demand through all nine months of pregnancy, it still sought to include those who believe civil rights extend to all humans, born and unborn.
No more. Today, you can’t be pro-life and expect to be “welcomed to participate” in the Democratic Party. The composition of the Democratic caucus in Congress painfully illustrates this transformation.
In 1996, the House and Senate passed a federal ban on the gruesome procedure known as partial-birth abortion. Legislators from both parties voted to outlaw the procedure where a baby is pulled from his mother’s womb feet-first and then stabbed in the skull before his head is fully outside the birth canal. President Bill Clinton vetoed the measure, but the House of Representatives voted to override Mr. Clinton’s decision.
Of the 283 members of Congress who opposed the president’s veto, 70 were Democrats. To them, protecting late-term babies from what amounted to infanticide was more important than loyalty to the leader of their party.
This is not to say there were 70 solidly pro-life Democrats in the House of Representatives in 1996. Undoubtedly, for some supporting the partial-birth abortion ban was an exception to their otherwise-consistent support for the Planned Parenthood agenda. But gaining that many Democrats to vote against the abortion industry today would be impossible.
That Was Then, This Is Now
Consider votes taken in Congress in the last year. In September 2015, the House approved the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act. The measure would have ensured that any child who lives through an abortion—and it happens—be given the same medical care as any other child born at the same gestational age.
You would think that everyone would be in favor of helping babies who are already born. After all, we’re not talking about babies who are partially born, but who are completely outside their mothers’ wombs, breathing and gazing at the new world in front of them. Surely, a bill against outright infanticide would have universal support.
But when the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act came before the current Congress, while it drew support from all 243 Republicans present, only five Democrats voted for the bill. One hundred seventy-seven Democrats voted against providing basic medical care to babies who were born, but unwanted.
Then there’s the matter of funding abortions through Obamacare. In 2009—not that long ago—pro-life Democrat Rep. Bart Stupak and pro-life Republican Joe Pitts offered an amendment to prevent abortion funding in the president’s Affordable Care Act. The House of Representatives voted 240 to 194 to approve the amendment, with 64 Democrats voting in favor of extending the Hyde Amendment’s abortion funding restriction to Obamacare.
The Senate dropped the amendment, and when the Affordable Care Act returned to the House for approval, a group of pro-life Democrats led by Stupak held up its passage. They objected to the bill’s use of public money for abortion. About a dozen of these Democrats held firm until the last minute when a presidential executive order, which proved to be meaningless in its alleged funding restrictions, swayed their votes.
Democrats Now Favor Aborting Babies Who Can Feel Pain
In 2015, the House again voted to try to remove taxpayer funding for abortion from Obamacare. The No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act would have written the annual Hyde Amendment spending restriction into federal law and extended it to all federal programs, not just those funded through the U.S. Health and Human Services appropriations bill. It passed 242 to 179, numbers similar to the House’s vote six years earlier to restrict abortion funding in Obamacare. This time, however, instead of 64 Democrats voting to limit taxpayer funding for abortion, there were only three.
Last year, the House voted to try to protect from abortion unborn babies old enough to feel pain. A mere four Democrats voted in favor of doing so. Again last year, the House voted to try to end hundreds of millions of dollars in payments to the nation’s largest abortion business, Planned Parenthood. Only two Democrats supported the measure.
The “pro-life Democrat” has become almost as non-existent in Congress as he or she is in the party’s platform. “The party of the little guy,” it seems, no longer has room for the littlest among us, or for those who care about them.
LifeNews.com Note: Father Frank Pavone is the national director for Priests for Life.