Pro-life Democratic group criticizes platform

WASHINGTON (BP) -- The Democratic platform committee has rejected an effort to acknowledge the diversity within its party over the abortion issue, and the party is poorer for it, according to Democrats for Life of America.

Meanwhile, the Republican platform committee has again approved language advocating for the legal protection of unborn babies. The section endorsed by the committee Aug. 21 said: "Faithful to the 'self-evident' truths enshrined in the Declaration of Independence, we assert the sanctity of human life and affirm that the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed."

The Democratic draft platform released Aug. 9 did not include a recognition that Democrats hold divergent views on abortion, thereby rejecting an effort by Democrats for Life of America (DFLA) to include language that was in the 1996 platform. DFLA said the exclusion of language welcoming both pro-life and pro-choice voters greatly weakens the platform.

"For the good of the Democratic Party, we will continue to advocate that the platform language should reflect the true diversity of views within the Democratic Party," DFLA Executive Director Kristen Day said. "Our message is simple: If you are pro-life and a Democrat, you can make a difference, thus the case for recognition. Inclusion can make a critical difference in this fall's election."

The Democratic Party has increasingly become identified with abortion rights in recent decades, though DLFA said nearly one-third of Democrats identify themselves as pro-lifers. In 1978, Democrats held a majority in the U.S. House of Representatives with 292 seats, including 125 (43 percent) pro-life party members, according to DFLA. Now, only 17 (9 percent) of the 184 Democrats in the House are pro-life, DFLA said.

DLFA cited the following results from Gallup polling in 2011 to demonstrate the diversity in the party:

-- 84 percent of Democrats support informed consent for a woman seeking an abortion.

-- 61 percent back parental consent for a minor before an abortion.

-- 60 percent endorse a 24-hour waiting period before an abortion.

-- 59 percent support the ban on partial-birth abortion.

-- 49 percent back requiring an ultrasound test before an abortion.


Compiled by Tom Strode, Baptist Press Washington bureau chief. Get Baptist Press headlines and breaking news on Twitter (@BaptistPress), Facebook (Facebook.com/BaptistPress ) and in your email ( baptistpress.com/SubscribeBP.asp).