The Democrats have seen the writing on the wall, and what it says is that their abortion extremism is costing them at the ballot box.
Not everyone is happy, and that angst threatens to further divide the party that accepted millions of dollars from Planned Parenthood in the 2016 election and that cheered at their party convention when NARAL’s Ilyse Hogue talked about aborting her child.
The chasm in the party was on full display when Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez threw their support behind Omaha mayoral candidate Heath Mello, a one-time pro-lifer whose recent voting record was solidly pro-abortion. After catching much flak, Perez declared that support for abortion was non-negotiable for any candidate running as a Democrat. And then he said he wasn’t establishing abortion as a litmus test, which is exactly what he was doing.
Then came pronouncements from a variety of high-profile Democrats, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (who famously labeled abortion as “sacred ground” in 2013) and New York Sen. Charles Schumer, that of course the party and its Big Tent can welcome pro-life candidates.
The latest salvo was fired by Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, who told The Hill on Monday that regaining the majority in the House in 2018 is the most important goal and that if that requires supporting pro-life candidates, so be it.
Furious backlash followed.
But the DCCC is paying attention to an important point, which politically active pro-life organizations like Priests for Life have known for many years. As post-election polling has repeatedly shown, there are quite a few voters who will only vote for the candidate with whom they agree on the abortion issue, and within that segment of the electorate, pro-life votes outnumber pro-abortion votes by a margin of two to one. This demographic alone can decide close races.
Moreover, the majority of Americans have never accepted the extreme abortion position of the Democratic platform, allowing abortion throughout pregnancy and requiring taxpayers to fund it.
But does the fact that the party might help a pro-life candidate mean that pro-life voters should vote for him or her? The answer is no.
The fundamental problem is that the Democratic Party is still in the hands, and the pockets, of the abortion industry, and the official platform is as pro-abortion as it has ever been. In our system of government, what party is in power matters more in many instances than what person is in power.
To illustrate why the party matters, let s look at what happens in the United States Senate.
The Majority party in the Senate chooses the Majority Leader, who has control of the Senate schedule and agenda. This includes the ability to select the timing for floor debates, consideration of amendments, and voting, both for legislation and nominations.
The Majority Party has a majority on all committees (except the Ethics Committee), and controls a majority of the staff on the committee.
The Majority in each committee recommends to their caucus a Committee Chairman. Typically, their selection is rubberstamped by the Majority Party in the Senate. The chairmen, in turn, set the agenda of their respective committees. This is an extremely powerful post. For example, chairmen sometimes refuse to schedule hearings on nominees and legislation, and this effectively kills them. In other words, the best candidate in either party could introduce the best legislation imaginable, and it would never come out of committee. The party matters.
There is also a profound moral problem, because the moral integrity of a party is not a matter of arithmetic. The Democratic Party cannot redeem itself by increasing the amount of money it directs to pro-life candidates, or increasing the number of pro-life members.
Rather, it needs to radically repent of its philosophical alliance with abortion.
Here, Pope Saint John Paul II offers crucial guidance. In his landmark encyclical Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life), he points out that support for legal abortion is not just a bad policy, but it changes the very nature of the state:
“In this way democracy, contradicting its own principles effectively moves towards a form of totalitarianism. The State is no longer the ‘common home’ where all can live together on the basis of principles of fundamental equality, but is transformed into a tyrant State, which arrogates to itself the right to dispose of the life of the weakest and most defenseless members … When this happens, the process leading to the breakdown of a genuinely human co-existence and the disintegration of the State itself has already begun. To claim the right to abortion, infanticide and euthanasia, and to recognize that right in law, means to attribute to human freedom a perverse and evil significance: that of an absolute power over others and against others. This is the death of true freedom.” (EV 20).
A party, therefore, that takes an official position in favor of legal abortion, contradicts democracy, supports tyranny, and facilitates the disintegration of the state itself.
Electing a few pro-life candidates just doesn’t cut it.
Grassroots Americans who identify themselves as Democrats are not well represented by a party held hostage by the abortion industry. And the idea that the party fights for equality, social justice, and the poor and weak is contradicted by its support for abortion, which destroys the weakest, institutionalizes inequality, and undermines the very foundations of social justice.
If the Democratic Party is doing some sincere soul-searching on abortion, it’s way overdue; but the change that’s needed is going to have to go far beyond the DCCC’s latest announcement.
Priests for Life is the world’s largest Catholic organization focused exclusively on ending abortion.