The death knell for anti-abortion Democrats?
If you tuned into the Democratic National Convention earlier this month and were momentarily confused as to whether C-SPAN was actually covering a huge abortion rally, you are not alone. The high-profile roles given to Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards, NARAL Pro-Choice America President Nancy Keenan, Sandra Fluke, and Caroline Kennedy are the capstone of a two-decade-long effort to eradicate anti-abortion Democrats from the party. It is an effort that is nearly complete. An event hosted by Democrats for Life during the convention failed to attract a single politician currently in office.
Twenty years ago it was a different story. In 1992, five anti-abortion governors addressed the Democratic convention. Today? Zero. But even then, the writing was on the wall.
One of the biggest champions for life at that time was then-Pennsylvania Governor Robert Casey Sr. In fact, his name is on the second most famous abortion Supreme Court case in history, Planned Parenthood v. Casey, in which the Supreme Court upheld five anti-abortion provisions in Pennsylvania’s Abortion Control Act. The bill, which Casey signed into law in 1989, included commonsense provisions like informed consent, parental consent, and a 24-hour waiting period — laws that are commonplace across the country today thanks to Casey’s strong leadership.
Casey tried to get a speaking slot at the 1992 Democratic convention. He hoped to deliver a speech protesting the passage in the 1992 Democratic platform that called for the creation of a government-run health care system that “provide[s] for the full range of reproductive choice — education, counseling, access to contraceptives, and the right to a safe, legal abortion.” Casey was denied his slot.
Since then, a glass ceiling has emerged. Anti-abortion Democrats have become an endangered species on Capitol Hill as well as in governors’ offices across the country. Anti-abortion Democrats in state legislatures complain that the national party actively blocks their efforts to move up the ranks, instead favoring those who toe the party’s radical line on abortion.
But this is a trend that cannot be maintained. The proportion of Americans who identify as pro-life continues to increase, with 50% of Americans identifying themselves as pro-life in this year’s Gallup poll on abortion. According to a recent CNN poll, 62% of Americans want legal restrictions on abortion while just 35% say it should be legal in all circumstances.
The 2012 Democratic platform supports taxpayer-funded abortion on demand during all nine months of pregnancy, for any reason whatsoever. As the platform puts it: “The Democratic Party strongly and unequivocally supports Roe v. Wade and a woman’s right to make decisions regarding her pregnancy, including a safe and legal abortion, regardless of ability to pay. We oppose any and all efforts to weaken or undermine that right.”
Interestingly, only four countries in the world embrace this view: China, North Korea, Canada, and the United States. The Democratic Party’s abortion mantra is not only out of step with a majority of Americans, it is out of step with most of the planet.
Daniel McConchie is the vice president of government affairs for Americans United for Life.