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September 3, 2008
Dems reach out to pro-lifers with townhall meeting
By John Gleason
Last week during the Democratic National Convention, Democrats for Life of America held a town hall meeting to discuss the Pregnant Women Support Act, an initiative to end the debate on abortion by promoting policies to bring pro-life and pro-choice people together to support and empower women to carry their pregnancies to term.
The Aug. 27 meeting drew a crowd of some 60 people to the Hotel Monaco in downtown Denver.
Two of the sponsors of the act, Sen. Robert Casey of Pennsylvania and Rep. Lincoln Davis of Tennessee, were on hand to highlight the initiative supporters say could reduce the abortion rate in America by 95 percent in the next 10 years. Also on the panel were Rep. Heath Shuler of N.C., and pro-choice advocate Robert Tuke, former chairman of the Tennessee Democratic Party and candidate for the U.S. Senate from Tennessee.
Democrats for Life of America exists to foster respect for life, from the beginning of life to natural death. The organization’s purpose is to elect pro-life Democrats to office and to promote a pro-life plank in the party platform. Janet Robert, the group’s president, told the Denver Catholic Register that since the 2004 elections, the right-to-life topic has really caught fire.
“When Howard Dean took over as the chairman of the Democratic National Committee, he said he wanted to find a way to bring the pro-lifers and pro-choice people back together,” she said. “He gave us a voice where before we couldn’t be heard.
Abortion is a hot button topic that can mean the difference in someone being elected to public office or not.
Roberts said pollsters in Ohio determined the reason John Kerry had lost that state in the 2004 presidential election was that pro-life Catholic swing voters voted the other way.
“They determined that the abortion issue was a top priority for Catholics,” she said. “This comes before any other issue, including gay marriage.”
Davis told the audience it’s time to get the pro-choice vs. pro-life politics out of the way so the issue of reducing the number of abortions can be addressed.
“Don’t we owe that to the American people,” he asked. “Don’t we owe it to them to have a dialogue rather than debate? This isn’t about politics. What’s important is that the hate needs to stop from both sides.”
Casey agreed, saying that what is important is to bring together everyone from both sides of the abortion question.
“This isn’t something that we can wish for, we have to work for it,” he told the audience. “It’s common ground for the common good. The issue is that as a society we should help pregnant women.”
Adoption of the Pregnant Women Support Act is critical, Tuke said, to achieving the goal of reducing the number of abortions, which both sides agree is necessary.
“The (abortion) issue shouldn’t be a political wedge,” he said, “that some use just to score points.”
Casey said that today a woman has a right to an abortion, but she also has a right to carry the child to term. That she has adequate pregnancy assistance and adoption resources and support should be a given.
“This shouldn’t be her problem,” he said, “it should be ours.”
Referring to Casey’s address to the Democratic National Convention the previous evening in which he briefly mentioned his pro-life views, Davis said the event was important because Casey’s father, then Pennsylvania Gov. Robert Casey Sr., was not permitted the opportunity to give a pro-life speech during the 1992 DNC.
A complete text of the Pregnant Women’s Support Act can be found online at www.democratsforlife.org. There is also commentary that Kristen Day, moderator of the townhall meeting and executive director of Democrats for Life of America, gave in a recent interview on “Good Morning America,” where she said the organization had been working overtime in hopes of bringing more pro-life sensitive language to the party platform.
Editor’s note: By the time the 2008 DNC concluded, the party platform on abortion was modified to include language to reduce unwanted pregnancies. But the phrase from the 2004 plank that said, “Abortion should be safe, legal and rare,” had been removed and the following had been inserted “The Democratic Party strongly and unequivocally supports Roe v Wade and a woman's right to choose a safe and legal abortion, regardless of ability to pay, and we oppose any and all efforts to weaken or undermine that right.” Read the party’s platform at http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/index.php?pid=78283.