I’m A Pro-Life Democrat, And Here’s Why I Won’t Leave My Party

I’m A Pro-Life Democrat, And Here’s Why I Won’t Leave My Party

Pete Buttigieg and other leading candidates refuse to affirm language supporting the diversity of thought on abortion in the Democratic Party platform. Here’s why I’m staying, in spite of everything.
Kristen Day
By

On Sunday night, at Fox’s Town Hall with Pete Buttigieg, I asked two simple questions: does he want the vote of 21 million pro-life Democrats, and, if so, would he support language in the Democratic Party platform respecting diversity of thought on this issue, as was the case in 1996 and 2000?

While Buttigieg said he’d try to “earn” my vote, this so-called “moderate” candidate refused to respond to my question about platform language, even when pressed to do so by me and the moderator, Chris Wallace.

With answers like that, it’s no wonder that for years the Democratic Party has been shedding its pro-life voters. With the Republican Party and President Trump doubling down on pro-life policies, some pro-life Democrats are becoming Republicans, or, often, becoming Independents.

The share of registered independents grew from 22 percent in 2000 to 28 percent in 2008, some of them former Democrats disillusioned by the Democratic Party’s abortion extremism. Many voters who switched from Barack Obama in 2012 to Trump in 2016 lean pro-life. For example, 56 percent of this group opposes the use of health insurance for abortion, a key policy pushed by Democratic National Committee leadership.

Pro-life Democrats have many reasons for walking away: the removal of conscience language from the abortion section of the Democratic Party platform in 2004, Hillary Clinton dropping the “rare” part of “safe, legal, and rare” in 2016, and Joe Biden dropping his opposition to the Hyde Amendment in 2019. Many Democratic voters oppose these extreme changes.

For example, 64 percent of Democrat voters support limiting abortion to the first three months. Only one presidential candidate—Tulsi Gabbard—opposes late-term abortion, in line with a supermajority of Democrats. Thank you, Tulsi, for taking a stand on this common-sense issue.

But in spite of all these issues, I will fight and stay, not only because this party, which is meant to fight for the little guy, is my natural home, but because if we leave, the pro-abortion extremism of the 2020 Democratic Party will worsen. I want to show to the leadership of the Democratic Party not only that pro-life principles are consistent with compassionate Democratic ideals, but that the votes of 21 million Democrats cannot be taken for granted.

I won’t stop defending the Democratic Party, the party of the living wage, health care, and pro-family policies. But I won’t give it a free pass on the human rights of a vulnerable group of human beings. I’m not calling on other pro-life Democrats to walk away. I’m calling on them to work with me in putting pressure on our presidential candidates to work for us—not for the abortion industry.

Do I expect these candidates to become pro-life in a day? No. But I do believe we have the numbers to force these candidates into a corner on the whole life causes supported by most Americans: opposing late-term abortion, expanding paid parental leave, and prohibiting public funding of abortion, for example.

At the very least, presidential candidates should affirm a plank in the Democratic Party platform that respects the diversity of thought on abortion. If pro-life Democrats ask that question at public events, write letters, and demand meetings, we can make progress on this issue.

This move isn’t just symbolic. It allows the Democratic Party to run pro-life Democratic candidates in deep-red states with a chance of winning, like Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards. In Louisiana, 60 percent of the population believes abortion should be illegal in all or most cases. Refusing to run or fund pro-life Democratic candidates, which some groups are increasingly doing, consigns the Democratic Party to irrelevance in a slew of states.

Not only is it arrogance to give up on states like Louisiana because the population has deeply held philosophical beliefs on life, but it’s plain wrong. The residents of Louisiana deserve Democratic governance: paid parental leave, a living wage, voting rights, and better child care. They shouldn’t be punished for refusing to be pro-choice, which would be the effect of shutting pro-life Democrats out of the party.

To pro-life Republicans: thank you for standing for life. I hope you will work with moderate Republicans and Democrats to extend pro-life legislation that protects life not just before birth, but throughout the whole life. To pro-life Democrats: stay with me on this. Don’t give up on your party. Preborn children need our voice.

Today, the abortion lobby controls Congress and threatens to wipe out remaining pro-life Democrats, such as the courageous Rep. Dan Lipinski. The abortion lobby is a vocal minority whose extreme beliefs in favor of taxpayer-funded abortion up to nine months for any reason are out of line with most actual Democrat voters. They’re well-funded by billionaires, who sometimes give covertly to support their causes.

But we have the votes to stop this abortion extremism. Fight with me to save what we have. This is our party, and I refuse to be forced into the arms of the president.

Kristen Day is the executive director of Democrats For Life of America.

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