NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)--Eunice Kennedy Shriver was a lifelong Democrat and member of a political family that largely embraced abortion rights, but on that controversial issue, she was pro-life.
"No one more than Eunice Kennedy Shriver understood better the power held by the most vulnerable in our society."
-- Pro-lifer Marjorie Dannenfelser
Shriver died Aug. 11 at the age of 88 and is perhaps best remembered as the founder of the Special Olympics. But while she was a lifelong advocate of the intellectually disabled she also was an abortion opponent, and she saw her two positions as being closely aligned.
More than four decades ago -- before the Supreme Court issued its 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion -- Shriver began fearing that if abortion was legalized and prenatal testing was used, then disabled unborn babies would be the target. Sadly, Shriver was right: An estimated 90 percent of Down syndrome babies are aborted each year.
She wasn't quiet about her pro-life views and consistently promoted adoption. In the summer of 1992 Shriver and her husband, Sargent Shriver, joined other pro-life leaders in signing a full-page New York Times ad that argued America should not "abandon the principle of respect for human life." "We can choose to extend once again the mantle of protection to all members of the human family, including the unborn," the ad stated. It ran during the Democratic National Convention, which was held in New York City.
She also is credited with helping get U.S. Catholic bishops fully on board the pro-life movement in the 1960s.
"No one more than Eunice Kennedy Shriver understood better the power held by the most vulnerable in our society," Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, an organization for pro-life female politicians, said in a statement. Shriver once served on the group's advisory committee. “She fought for those hidden in the shadows of life, while acknowledging that they teach us far more than we could ever offer them. She was consistent in her championing of every vulnerable human life." Read More