Here’s a story you won’t see in the mainstream media.
Just when it looked as if pro-life Democrats were going to go the way of the Dodo bird, there appears to be some softening of the party’s strident pro-abortion stand. Tom Perez, the new head of the Democratic National Committee, met recently with a group known as Democrats for Life of America that included U.S. Rep. Daniel Lipinski, D-Ill.
Perez did not promise anything and made clear afterward that the Democrats remained a pro-abortion party. But he did accept a list of requests the group developed to make the Democratic Party more welcoming to pro-life candidates and voters.
The meeting came after a controversy in Omaha in which some Democrats refused to support the party’s candidate for mayor because he was “personally pro-life.”
Perez had said shortly before the Omaha situation erupted that the party should not “demand fealty on every issue,” even abortion. And he maintains he never has actually said pro-abortion views are a litmus test for Democratic candidates who want the party’s support.
But after the kerfuffle, he seemed to draw a bright line when he released a statement that said, “Every Democrat, like every American, should support a woman’s right to make her own choices about her body and her health. That is not negotiable and should not change city by city.”
The group’s requests–creating a PAC for pro-life Democratic candidates; eliminating the explicit opposition to the Hyde Amendment in the party platform; and issuing a public statement on the DNC website and a letter from the chairman to all state and local party chairs saying the party “does not support an abortion litmus test and pressuring people to change their position on life”–are unlikely to come to fruition.
But the pro-life activists left the meeting hopeful after what Kristen Day, executive director of Pro-Life Democrats for Life of America, called a “productive” meeting that she hoped would be “the start of a broader conversation within the party over how to expand its coalition to include more pro-life Democrats.”
Charles Camosy, a Democrats for Life board member, went further. “The Democratic Party needs to fundamentally rethink its relationship with NARAL-style abortion orthodoxy,” he wrote in an essay for Crux. “It has killed the party in the past. It is killing the party today. And it spells doom for the party’s future with young people as well.”
Mainstream media have not noticed this story–as far as it is concerned, Democrats remain a pro-abortion monolith, aside from Lipinksi and Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa. But the activist press has noticed the “threat” to this core Democratic principle.
A recent piece in Cosmopolitan made the point that mouthing pro-abortion bromides is not enough–that pro-abortion politics is a full-time avocation of its own. One accused Bernie Sanders, Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer of being insufficiently pro-abortion and said it was useless for Louisiana voters to have elected Democrat John Bel Edwards governor because he too was insufficiently pro-abortion.
“Time and again, state politicians who think they know what is best for women have refuted scientific studies with junk science, ignored expert testimony, and dismissed the experiences of the women who have had abortions in order to champion anti-choice legislation and further their political careers,” the article stated.
Yes, how dare politicians do things to get votes and remain in office. Especially in Louisiana, where there is a law on the books that says if Roe v. Wade is ever overturned, abortion will become illegal in the state immediately.
The article, by Amy Irvin, a pro-abortion activist in New Orleans, reflects another trend in leftist journalism on this issue–it attempts to tie pro-abortion stances not to civil rights of the mother so much as to economic rights.
Her piece recites the pro-abortion boilerplate–keep your personal beliefs to yourself where abortion is concerned; abortion is health care; health care is a right. But then she attempts to take it a step further.
“Certain Democratic leaders believe issues like abortion and access to reproductive care are distracting from what should be the party’s real focus: economics,” she wrote. “But what this strategy fails to recognize is that for women, access to abortion drives their economics, and it is economics that often drives the need for abortion.”
This was followed by the usual litany of excuses–pregnancy could cost a woman her job, which would mean she couldn’t afford to raise her child. Therefore, it’s best for the child to be killed beforehand.
It is a conflict that could rage for a while. There is no obvious compromise position. There are more pro-life Democrats than Democrats would like to admit. And the point about Democrats abandoning the cultural center of America with their militant pro-NARAL platform planks is valid.
The voters that could be gained by softening on abortion are the voters who swung the election from the heavily favored Hillary Clinton to Donald Trump. Winning them back would be a huge boost for Democrats. But it’s far from clear the party is ready to live up to its “big tent” claims when it comes to this.
Photo by Gage Skidmore