The 2012 Democratic platform asserts that a woman should be able to have an abortion, even if she cannot afford one without taxpayer subsidy.
“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,” the platform states. “We oppose any and all efforts to weaken or undermine that right.”
Previous platforms have qualified the party’s pro-choice position by calling for fewer abortions. The 2000 platform praised the drop in the abortion rate during Bill Clinton’s administration.
In 1992, Democrats declared, “The goal of our nation must be to make abortion less necessary, not more difficult or more dangerous.” Subsequent platforms contained some variations of Clinton’s signature phrase that abortion should be “safe, legal and rare.”
The party deleted the word “rare” in 2008 and did not include it this year. Today Democrats merely “recognize that health care and education help reduce the number of unintended pregnancies and thereby also reduce the need for abortions.”
As recently as 2000, the platform recognized the existence of pro-life Democrats. “The Democratic Party is a party of inclusion,” the platform read. “We respect the individual conscience of each American on this difficult issue, and we welcome all our members to participate at every level of our party.”
Democrats also criticized 1996 GOP presidential nominee Bob Dole for not including a “tolerance clause” similarly recognizing pro-choice Republicans four years earlier.
Democrats for Life executive director Kristen Day told The Daily Caller News Foundation that her organization got to testify before the platform committee “for the first time in years” but had no real influence on the abortion plank.
A Democrats for Life event held in Charlotte Tuesday featured no current Democratic elected officials. When asked if any pro-life Democrats were speaking at the convention, Day only mentioned former President Jimmy Carter, who sought re-election as a mildly pro-choice candidate in 1980 but has become more critical of his party’s position on abortion in recent years.
The president of NARAL Pro-Choice America is a member of the Democratic platform committee and the president of Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider, is scheduled to address the convention Wednesday.
“There are 21 million pro-life Democrats,” Day said. Ignoring them will consign the party to “permanent minority status.”
The 2012 platform does call for supporting health care for pregnant women and social services after the birth of the child, “including caring adoption programs.” Day told The DC News Foundation that these are important priorities for pro-life Democrats.
This year’s platform also neglects to endorse the Freedom of Choice Act, which would codify Roe and nullify most state-level abortion restrictions.
Democrats mentioned abortion in their platform for the first time in 1976. “We fully recognize the religious and ethical nature of the concerns which many Americans have on the subject of abortion,” the party said that year. “We feel, however, that it is undesirable to attempt to amend the U.S. Constitution to overturn the Supreme Court decision in this area.”
Today the Democratic platform maintains that “there is no place for politicians or government to get in the way” of abortions, but they can facilitate them through public funding.
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