Most Texans oppose abortion on demand. Does the Democratic Party want our vote?

By Jordan Kizer (Democrats for Life of Texas)

In Texas, 64% of voters with an opinion want restrictions on abortion, including large minorities of even Democratic voters. In spite of this, the Texas Democratic Party is doubling down on extremist policies barely embraced by any voters.

This week, the Texas Democratic Party will be meeting for its first-ever virtual convention. The Texas Democratic Party rightly calls Texas a battleground state. But the Texas Democratic Party’s beliefs on abortion are radically out of line with the state they want to win. Its 2018 platform is even more extreme than its national equivalent.

It demands that adolescents be able to access abortion without parental notification. It calls for an end to all funding for Crisis Pregnancy Centers, which provide ultrasounds and maternity wear to vulnerable women. It opposes reasonable regulation of abortion providers, such as legislation proposed by Democrat Katrina Jackson in Louisiana. It identifies no restrictions whatsoever on abortion that it would support.

Worse, it goes out on a limb to declare that the pre-born child is worth absolutely nothing: “The product of a joined egg and sperm has no independent status,” it claims. This anti-science stance directly conflicts with the 95% of biologists who affirm that life begins at fertilization. I worry that this week, the Texas Democratic Party will double down on these extreme positions as it votes to update its platform.

The 2016 Texas Democratic Party Platform.

I’m not worried about this abortion extremism because I’m a “family values” Republican looking to pick a partisan fight. I’m outraged because I’m a Democrat, and this is my party. I am a pro-Union Democrat who supports a living wage, expanded health care, paid family leave, and other pro-woman policies. Like the one in three Democrats who identify as pro-life, I support legal protection for both women and pre-born children. We believe that a just and progressive society responds to the problem of abortion with pro-women policies: childcare, adoption funding, and better maternal health care, especially for black women, who are facing a mortality crisis.

Abortion extremism is a betrayal of Democratic values: our concern for the oppressed, our belief in the fundamental equality of all persons, and our rejection of violence.

Most relevant to November, it’s also a recipe for electoral suicide. Unless the Democratic Party moderates its support for abortion rights, I worry that the Republican Party will sweep states like Texas on November 3. Donald Trump is already exploiting the abortion issue to cast Democrats as extremists. I fear that pro-life Democrats and Independents will either vote Republican or stay at home, giving Republicans a victory by default.

In critical swing states in the South, majorities of Democrats and Independents support common-sense measures to protect life.  51% of Democrats in Texas support a ban on abortion after 20 weeks. Among Independents, it’s even more: 70%.

File:Henry Cuellar, official portrait, 115th congress.jpg - Wikipedia
Rep. Henry Cuellar from Texas has voted for some pro-life bills in the House of Representatives.

If the Democratic Party takes its moral duty to defeat Republicans seriously, it will try to bridge the gap with pro-life voters. There is plenty of room for diversity in welcoming pro-life voters into their coalition, committing to finding common ground, and strategically agreeing to run pro-life candidates in pro-life districts.

Increasingly, though, pro-life Democrats are stonewalled. In 2017, DNC Chair Tom Perez described support for abortion as “non-negotiable.”  In 2019, the Democratic Attorneys General Association (DAGA) installed an abortion litmus test prohibit pro-life Democrats from running.

Frankly, at this point, there’s not a lot to lose. With elective abortion on demand and targeted attacks on elected pro-life Democrats like Henry Cuellar, one struggles to see how the Democratic Party could become anymore extreme.

Pro-life values are about compassion, non-violence, and the equality of all human beings. They are fundamentally compatible with Democratic values, and we refuse to allow the Democratic Party to continue to push pro-life voters into the arms of right-wing Republicans.

Jordan Kizer holds a Masters in Public Affairs from the LBJ School in Austin, Texas, and currently serves as an Organizing Director for Democrats for Life of America.

Why we’re calling on the Democratic Party to reject abortion extremism

By Kristen Day (Democrats for Life of America)

For years, the Democratic Party’s official platform has been inching towards a more extreme policy on abortion. In 2016, that approach reached its nadir: elective, taxpayer-funded abortion on demand.

Unlike the 2004 Democratic Party platform, which included just four sentences on the topic, the 2016 version takes 15 sentences to spell out the most extreme imaginable position on abortion. Taxpayer-funding of abortion, in both the US and overseas. “Unequivocal” support of legal abortion, with no exceptions. It even makes a specific plea for better access to abortion for veterans.

What the 2016 platform omits to say is just as important. It doesn’t commit to making abortion “rare,” nor does it recognize the diversity of thought on abortion within the Democratic Party. In fact, previous versions of the platform in the 1990s and 2000s included precisely this language.

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I’m a Democrat for the same reason that I’m anti-abortion. I believe the state should protect the weak, not the strong. I believe that ending a life is never a reasonable solution to a problem. I believe that a just and progressive society responds to the problem of abortion with pro-women policies: childcare, adoption funding, and better maternal health care, especially for black women, who are facing a mortality crisis. 

Abortion extremism betrays the Democratic concern for the little guy: there are few human beings more vulnerable than the pre-born child.

Worse, we worry that in November the Demcratic Party will suffer tremendously because of its extreme position on abortion.

In critical swing states in the South, narrow majorities of Democrats and overwhelming majorities of Independents support commonsense measures to protect life.  Among Independents, 66% in Florida,  72% in North Carolina, and 80% in Georgia support a ban on abortion after 20 weeks.

In my open letter, I’m asking the Democratic Platform Committee to consider some of these concessions in its 2020 platform, to help it better reflect the beliefs of many Democrats across the country.

For years, my organization has been trying to cooperate with the Democratic leadership to build a space for pro-life thinking into the party, in a spirit of diversity and inclusion. Increasingly, we are stonewalled: DNC Chair Tom Perez and the Democratic Attorneys General Association have made it clear that support for abortion is “non-negotiable.” In 2020, to my face, Pete Buttigieg declined to support inclusive language on pro-life Democrats in the Party platform.

Kristen Day: Buttigieg and 2020 hopefuls, don't cancel 21 million ...

Frankly, at this point, we don’t have a lot to lose. With elective abortion on demand and targeted attacks on elected pro-life Democrats, I struggle to see how the 2020 Party platform could be even more extreme than it was in 2016 – but it’s possible. Ilyse Hogue, the head of NARAL Pro-Choice America, is once again on the Platform Committee. Earlier this year, she described me as a “dishonest broker” wielding “abortion as a weapon for an agenda that is just about control and reproductive oppression.” I have no doubt Hogue and her allies, which include a Planned Parenthood executive, will attempt to institutionalize a litmus test on abortion.

It’s never a bad time to speak up in favor of human rights. But there’s never been a more urgent time for the 21 million pro-life Democrats in this country to put pressure on the party they belong to. 

Kristen Day is Executive Director of Democrats for Life of America.

You can read her Open Letter to the Platform Committee here.

We need to protect pro-life voices in the Democratic Party

By Kristen Day (Democrats for Life of America)

Pro-life Rep. Collin Peterson (MN-07) is under attack by the Republican establishment.

On January 14, the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) released its endorsement for Minnesota’s 7th congressional district, endorsing Michelle Fischbach, an “accomplished pro-life leader,” over the incumbent.

The thing is – the representative for Minnesota’s 7th congressional district, already endorsed by NRLC on multiple occasions, is already pro-life.  Collin Peterson has voted multiple times to end late-term abortion and even co-sponsored legislation to end sex-selective abortion. In 1999, when President Donald Trump claimed to be “pro-choice in every respect”, Rep. Peterson was working to ban the transportation of minors across state lines for an abortion.  Since 1991, he has been one of the most reliable pro-life votes in the House. In 2019, he co-signed a letter urging President Trump to veto any legislation violating pro-life causes. In 2020, he signed a brief urging the Supreme Court to overturn Roe vs. Wade.

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What gives?

Two things.

First, Rep. Peterson is a Democrat. Since 2010, NRLC’s PAC has supported exclusively Republican candidates, which is a  bit rich for a supposedly “non-partisan” organization, in a world in which pro-life Democrats do exist, albeit in small numbers.

Second, Collin Peterson’s Republican opponent has a minor leg-up in this situation. Ms. Fischbach, who has  previously served as Lieutenant Governor of Minnesota, is not only married to the Executive Director, Scott Fischbach, of NRLC’s Minnesota affiliate but also daughter to NRLC’s Executive Assistant Director, Darla St. Martin.

We shouldn’t be surprised that Ms. Fischbach’s mother and husband like her enough to vote for her in a political election. We should be outraged, though, that they would use the resources and political capital of organizations in which they are paid employees to benefit a family member. This is nepotism, plain and simple.

The NRLC had a distinguished beginning as one of the most principled and progressive pro-life organizations, supporting pro-life people of all strips in the name of social justice. Today, it looks more and more like part of the staid Republican establishment.

The pro-life movement will only be able to make progress in the long-term if we have voices advocating for pre-born children on both sides of the aisle. Right now, Rep. Peterson is one of only three pro-life voices in the Democratic caucus. We need to protect these voices, because if we don’t – we tacitly surrender to the other side.

Culling pro-life Democrats from Congress makes abortion a partisan issue, not a human rights issue. The sub-text is that the lives of pre-born children have protection conditional on Republican control of the chamber.

Vulnerable children and mothers facing crisis pregnancies deserve more than conditional protection: they deserve human rights and legislative protection – come rain or shine, Republican or Democrat.

More than anything, the rights of unborn children shouldn’t be sacrificed to the personal political ambitions of individuals.

Rep. Peterson, a popular incumbent in a Republican-leaning and overwhelmingly pro-life district, is in one of the best positions to keep advocating for pro-life causes in the Democratic caucus, far into the future. Minnesotans support him because of his advocacy for farmers and willingness to promote bipartisan causes. Unlike other members of Congress, his primary goal is to work for his constituents – not corporations.

Pro-life Minnesotans need to rally around Rep. Peterson, who has been a courageous voice for life – even in the face of an increasingly single-minded Democratic Party.

We are Democrats, and we support the Democratic Party on most causes of today, although we’re fighting to change its extremism on abortion, forced on us by a vocal minority. We also believe that being pro-life means being pro-life for the whole life – fighting, for example, to secure paid parental leave as a way to secure a safer future for both women and children.

But we call on all pro-life advocates to rally around a solid and principled congressional advocate for local causes, who also plays a valuable role in promoting pro-life causes.

We have hundreds of “pro-life” Republicans in Congress. Pro-life representation matters, but we also have to recognize that despite controlling all three centers of power for years – Republicans failed to defund Planned Parenthood or ban horrific late-term abortion, which tears to pieces a fully formed child.

We only have a handful of pro-life Democrats – and their relative importance in changing the national conversation and persuading Democrats on the fence to change their mind cannot be understated.

Something stinks in Minnesota’s 7th congressional district, and it has everything to do with personal political ambition. Our cause matters more than that.

Kristen Day is Executive Director of Democrats for Life of America. Xavier Bisits is a board member.

Whole Life Rising

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Whole Life Rising is a new podcast dedicated to spreading the word about the whole life movement and efforts to protect human life and dignity at all stages. Each month, hosts Robert Christian, editor of the whole life website Millennial, and Kristen Day, executive director of Democrats for Life of America, will welcome guests, discuss issues, and share stories from the front lines of these critical efforts to safeguard human life and dignity from womb to tomb.

The podcast will provide a unique opportunity for pro-life progressives, Democrats, and feminists to share their vital messages and stories, which are so often excluded from mainstream political coverage. It will raise the profile of whole life leaders and hopefully generate more mainstream coverage of this important work.

It will also offer something unique to listeners. There are tens of millions of Americans who believe in a consistent commitment to life and dignity, but they often feel isolated and alienated from the major political parties. This podcast will let them know that they are not alone. It will provide them with the information they need. And it will help to strengthen the growing whole life movement, reaching new audiences and connecting those who are already engaged in important work at the grassroots level.

You can donate to help with the launch of this new podcast here.

Why Coloradans are supporting Proposition 120?

Proposition 120 would prohibit abortion after 22 weeks gestation except to save the life of the mother.  Five thousand petitions are now circulating throughout Colorado to place Proposition 120 on the ballot in 2020.  A very diverse group of Coloradans is embracing the effort.  Women and men are equally supportive.  Members of every ethnicity and race are represented.  The coalition includes Democrats, Unaffiliated, and Republican voters.  People of every religious persuasion, as well as, atheists are signing on.       

What is driving the consensus?  A young woman in her 20’s signed a petition I was circulating in downtown Denver last week.  She provided the simple answer – “it’s a baby.”  She explained that she was “pro-choice,” but she could not contemplate killing a 22-week old fetus.  She added that she “was born (premature) at 6 months”.  How could anyone not recognize the humanity of the 22-week fetus?  One would have to be willfully ignorant or driven by an extreme abortion rights ideology. 

Indeed, a 22-week old fetus is a vital human being.  A mother can feel her 22-week fetus “kick.”  The fetus can respond to her mother’s voice and touch.  She can undergo curative surgery as an independent patient.  She can feel pain, including, the likely excruciating pain of the abortion procedure.  A 22-week fetus now commonly survives when born prematurely. 

In recent Gallup polling, 60% of Americans feel that abortion should be either legal in only a few circumstances or illegal all together.  Only 28% of Americans feel that abortion should be legal in the second trimester and a mere 13% feel abortion should be legal in the third trimester.  Coloradans recognize that it is time that Colorado law reflects this broad bipartisan consensus – late abortion should be limited to situations where the life of the mother is in jeopardy. 

Although data is very limited in late abortion, most experts and a handful of studies suggest women pursue late abortions for similar reasons that they seek earlier abortions.   Only a minority of abortions are performed for fetal anomalies.  In the tragic case of a fatal fetal anomaly, perinatal hospice offers a loving, compassionate alternative to late abortion.  For women who have suffered the violence of rape/incest, abortion will continue to be an option during the first five months of pregnancy. 

This sordid irony is not lost on Coloradans – a viable 22-week fetus enjoys all the protections of state and federal laws when born but can be arbitrarily killed as long as she remains in the uterus.  Coloradans feel It is time we correct this gross inequity.  We should also redouble our efforts in Colorado and throughout the US to support pregnant women and their families so that contemplating late abortion becomes a relic of the past. 

Thomas J. Perille MD

Coalition for Women and Children

President, Colorado Chapter, Democrats for Life of America

The End-of-Life Option Act Black Hole – Is it time to shed more light?

Do you ever wonder what happened since the Colorado End of Life Options Act passed – Colorado’s version of physician-assisted suicide? The ballot initiative was heralded as providing a safe, compassionate option for those faced with suffering from a terminal disease. The promoters of the initiative claimed that there would be safety and transparency in its execution. It would be the impetus to make great strides in improving end-of-life care for everyone. It would not “normalize” suicide for vulnerable youth with severe emotional pain. Given the findings from the 2018 End-of-Life Options Act report (published by the Colorado Department of Health and Environment), the reality may be quite different.

Between 2017 and 2018 there was a 74% increase in patients who chose assisted suicide. What is driving the increase? We will never know since patients are never asked why they resorted to assisted suicide as part of the requirements of the bill. Is it because they had uncontrolled pain – physical or emotional? Is there subtle financial coercion because of inadequate health care coverage or the inability to utilize family/medical leave? Is it because they feel a burden to their family? Do family members influence their decision? Is it because of their fear of disability? Is it because they are anxious or depressed about dying? If we had answers to these questions, we could devise solutions to reduce the demand for assisted suicide. We could explore new palliative options to address uncontrolled symptoms that the patients identified. We could pursue legislation to improve health care coverage and family/medical leave policies. We could enhance in-home hospice support services. We could make mental health services more readily available near the end of life. Even supporters of assisted suicide need to acknowledge that choosing suicide is a failure of end-of-life care at some level. Without insight into the system failures, we don’t have the knowledge or the motivation to make these improvements.

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This is what Happens when You Put Profits Before People

A video of Virginia State House Delegate Kathy Tran has spread through social media – mostly in conservative circles, but it is essential that Democrats take a close look at – and listen closely to – this critical dialogue between Delegate Tran and Delegate Todd Gilbert, the chairman of the Virginia House Criminal Law Subcommittee.

After I watched the video, I honestly felt a little sorry for Delegate Tran. You could tell she was a little uncomfortable with her answers – and she should be. As a new mother herself, she has a good grasp of fetal development and should know that it is just not a good idea to allow a woman in labor to decide to end her pregnancy.  I think we can all – or at least we should – agree on that premise.

When Chairman Gilbert asked Delegate Tran, “Where it is obvious that a woman is about to give birth,” and gave a specific example – “she’s dilating” – “could she request an abortion under your bill?” The only answer she could give was an uncomfortable, “My bill would allow that, yes.”

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Should Democrats March for Life?

Pro-life Democrats attend the March for Life every single year but should we?

Every year, we march because we believe that our message is vital for both the pro-life movement and our society as a whole. Our message is that we as a country must be pro-life for the whole life. We must protect the life and dignity of every single person from the womb to the tomb. This includes not only direct threats to human life, such as abortion, euthanasia, and the death penalty, but also indirect threats, which are nevertheless grave and can also end up killing millions of people around the world each year, such as poverty, inadequate access to health care, and environmental degradation.

Some see our whole-life approach as a distraction and believe that we are taking our eyes off the ball. Of course, some of these critiques are offered in bad faith by people who have tried to tie the pro-life movement to other issues, such as their personal opposition to same-sex marriage or various other conservative causes. But others sincerely believe that the focus should just be on the immensely important issue of abortion.

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Missouri Party Chairman Closes Door on Pro-Life Democrats Eliminates Inclusive “Big Tent” Language Approved By Platform Committee

There is an important election coming up that will determine the balance of the U.S. Senate and the future of the U.S. Supreme Court. The election could also determine whether or not there will be impeachment efforts to rid the White House of Donald Trump.  Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) is in a very close battle, and all Democrats would like to see her continue her tenure in the U.S. Senate.

Missouri Party Chairman Stephen Webber thinks that the best way to support Senator McCaskill and other Democrats in Missouri is to create an unnecessary battle over abortion.

A few weeks ago, there was a meeting to amend the Missouri Democratic Party platform. A vote took place, and the amendment was accepted. The Missouri Democratic Party then said that they welcome Whole Life Democrats in the party.  The “conscience language” to include pro-life Democrats did not dilute the abortion-rights plank in the Democratic Party platform.

Unfortunately, it does not appear that the acceptance, along with the compromise language, lasted. Party Chairman Webber held a meeting this morning to strip the inclusive language from the platform because nothing says “We we want your vote” more than overturning a fair process of debate and approval. It is very unusual to remove language unilaterally after a platform has been ratified. It makes you wonder about the kind of pressure supposedly “progressive” groups exerted and why. They know that this removal will cause chaos. Continue reading

The Trouble with the Agenda of the Democratic Party

by Diane R. Pagen

Democrats For Life of America has invited me to explain how I came to know of Democrats for Life and why I will go to the conference in Denver in 2018. I don’t write to evoke sadness, but to motivate you to act. I want you to attend the Democrats for Life conference in Denver. This is really a matter of life and death; despite the importance of creating a more compassionate and just system, Americans all over are losing their will to fight, for one, and I think coming together with people who are still willing to talk is vital now. Despair isn’t going to get us anywhere. While we despair, the Democratic Party is teaching young people that the death penalty is always wrong but that abortion is always right. Single parents are told that someone will fight for them to have “better paying jobs” while we know that in the current economy, wages that sustain life are less and less possible. No matter your religion, political party, or background, there is no way to justify the termination of a million pregnancies a year in the modern United States. The Democratic Party justifies abortion while it actively ignores the poverty that leads to many abortions. The Party no longer shapes its agenda through logic, humanity and justice.

The Democratic Party Platform is an agenda of economic exploitation of the poor, regression in matters of children’s rights and racial discrimination. If they read this, they will claim I am a radical, a wacko; they will act offended by my comments and restate that they are the Party that cares about children, especially poor children and children of color. Don’t believe it. I have been an Independent, a Democrat, and a Republican all, trying to find the party that best represents my views. My only non-negotiables in choosing a Party, whether it be a party with a little “p” or a big “p” is that nobody gets hurt. I officially changed my party to Republican last year, when I was horrified that the DNC was aiding one candidate, Clinton, over Sanders. At the time, it had not been proven, but there were a lot of clues. Now it has been confirmed, and my disgust with the elite Democrats has been cemented, aided by the fact that neither Ms. Wasserman Schultz, nor Ms. Clinton, nor Ms. Brazile have atoned. In fact, Ms. Brazile opted for saving her own skin, and throwing Wasserman Shultz and Secretary Clinton under the bus. The only reason I am changing my party back to the Democratic Party is because of Democrats for Life. Continue reading