Pro-life Dems should be proud

Forget about what we didn’t get, for a second. (Though I do want to talk about that in another post.) Look at what we did get. Look at what we did.

Here’s the Democratic platform statement on abortion from 2004:

Because we believe in the privacy and equality of women, we stand proudly for a woman’s right to choose, consistent with Roe v. Wade, and regardless of her ability to pay. We stand firmly against Republican efforts to undermine that right. At the same time, we strongly support family planning and adoption incentives. Abortion should be safe, legal, and rare.

Absent any pressure from pro-lifers, absent any push for abortion reduction, what would have changed about that statement? What would have been the motivation for change? I’d have expected a stronger statement of support for birth control, given the recent attacks on contraception, but that’s about it.

Here’s the statement from the draft platform for 2008:

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.The Democratic Party also strongly supports access to affordable family planning services and comprehensive age-appropriate sex education which empower people to make informed choices and live healthy lives. We also recognize that such health care and education help reduce the number of unintended pregnancies and thereby also reduce the need for abortions. The Democratic Party also strongly supports a woman’s decision to have a child by ensuring access to and availability of programs for pre and post natal health care, parenting skills, income support, and caring adoption programs.

So, as you’d expect, there’s expanded language about contraception and sex ed, and that’s great. But that’s not all — look at what else has been added.

Yes, the support for abortion is still there. But because of pressure from pro-lifers, there’s far more support for nonviolent options. Because of pressure from pro-lifers, the Democratic Party explicitly committed itself to supporting women’s decision to choose life. Because of pressure from pro-lifers, the platform is stronger on reproductive justice for women. Want to just mull that over for a second? I know I do.

We did this, and we should shout it from the rooftops. I’m not saying that pro-choicers don’t want to support women who carry to term, or that pro-lifers were the only ones who pushed for it. But that language wasn’t there in 2004, was it? We made the difference. There’s a lot more to do, and I don’t want to gloss over that, but let’s be proud for a moment.

6 thoughts on “Pro-life Dems should be proud

  1. Yes, that last sentence is good. But, even though nothing in that language in any way moderates the “right to choice” position and it should be non-controversial for both sides, the other side did exact a price for allowing it in.

    And this shows that supporting women who choose to carry their pregnancy to term is still quite controversial among Democrats. So many so-called feminists still seem to have doubts whether women should be supported in such a choice.

    What did they exact as the price?

    1. The ditching of the “safe, legal and rare” language which they never really liked. Now it’s just “safe and legal.”

    2. The introduction of the concept, not in the old language, of a “need for abortions.” They are no longer simply acceptable, but now needed.

    We need to look at the whole statement, not just the last sentence. It is politically deft, in that it provides ways for both sides to argue that the statement is a move in their direction. But clearly it can’t really be that.

    I do hope that the last sentence will put some pressure on the Republicans to put a little teeth into their claim to be pro-life by coming out for real help for pregnant women who are choosing life. If it does, it will serve to make one Party more pro-life, but it’s not the Democratic Party.

  2. Bill,
    in the end, it’s the party that advocates for birth control, comprehensive sex education, and real options for already pregnant women and other mothers that is going to make any real difference in the abortion rate…Not the party that inveighs about the precious right to life of the fetus while dissing already born people right and left.

  3. They’ve been so rabidly and unashamedly proabortion for so long that people are having to have a huge celebration that they finally grasped that maybe, just maybe, it’s okay if once in a while some woman makes a choice that’s NOT abortion.

    Yeah, the Democrats should be proud — the way a toddler is proud that at least he got on the potty even though he already wet his pants.

    It’s pathetic that such a tiny accomplishment is such a big deal.

  4. Bill’s absolutely right about one thing. Pro-life Dems got suckered.

    Yeah, the language about supporting women who choose Life is a nice touch. But look at what else sneaked into the statement….

    … a woman’s right to choose a safe and legal abortion…
    As Bill noticed, they’re not even going to pay lip service to making abortion rare.

    … and we oppose any and all efforts to weaken or undermine that right.
    Did you notice that the previous platform statement specified Republican efforts, but this statement is more broad? Why could that be? Because pro-abortion & pro-choice Dems have realized that they have “traitors” in their midst. In other words, the increase in the scope of this statement is the Party of Death’s way of telling pro-life Dems to talk to the hand.

    We also recognize that such health care and education help reduce the number of unintended pregnancies and thereby also reduce the need for abortions.
    This is the brilliant statement. In one sentence, they have both added another reason to support comprehensive sex education & ubiquitous contraception (not exactly a new idea) by supposedly hitching it to the laudable goal of reducing abortions. However, is there any actual commitment to reducing abortions? The rest of the statement certainly doesn’t indicate any such commitment, and the history of the Democratic Party clearly proves that they are not committed to reducing abortions. In other words, it’s a false promise.

    But the bigger danger is what Bill mentioned. You have accepted a statement that claims a “need” for abortion. What need?! What possible reason could there be for a woman to “need” to kill a defenseless child? The very notion is absurd and should be unacceptable to a pro-lifer.

    If anything, Christina is understating the case. This “pro-life” statement is more like a toddler being proud of making it to the potty, while hoping that Mommy & Daddy don’t notice that he’s already pooped in his sister’s closet.

    You’re being used, Jen.

  5. Those of us who are pro-everyone’s-life don’t have a party. All we can do is either pick one of the big two parties and try to improve it, or opt out and cast a protest vote. I went the latter route for years, and didn’t find it effective. I prefer slow progress in the Democratic Party to no progress, and I do believe this is (very slow) progress. I note that several prominent figures, such as Joel Hunter and Douglas Kmiec, seem to have given up on the prospect of reforming the Republican Party’s many anti-life positions and decided that they were likely to make more progress with the Democrats. That’s telling, I think. However, I do hope that some people who believe as they do will stick with the Republican Party and try to reform it from within.

  6. I really think that if prolife Democrats split off from the party and started a new party, they would be the largest third party in history, and I know I’d join them.

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