By Matt Tuman
Lost in the presidential race this year was what happened this summer in the Illinois state legislator. Governor Bruce Rauner signed into law Senate Bill 1564, which made abortion the preference for unintended pregnancies in Illinois. The bill stipulates that all doctors, hospitals and pregnancy centers not only provide information on abortion and where it is available, but also discuss the ‘benefits’ of abortion. If the doctor or center is morally or religiously opposed to abortion, they still must either refer the patient to another provider, transfer them to another provider or provide them with information on locations that will offer abortion.
This law amounts to total hypocrisy on the pro-choice community. Their major argument is that the government should not be involved in women’s health decisions and that those decisions should be left between the woman and her doctor. However, with the passage of this law they take that decision making process away by forcing what the doctor has to say even if he has moral or religious objections to it.
A July 2016 Knights of Columbus/ Marist poll shows that Americans overwhelmingly oppose forcing doctors to promote or provide abortion who have a moral or religious objection by a 57%-36% margin. What is perhaps just as astounding is that the law does not require health care professionals and centers to promote parenting or adoption in the event of an unintended pregnancy. It only promotes abortion. This raises the question that if the pro-choice community wants to give women choices, why are they passing through legislation that only promotes one option, and not a choice?
The Democratic Party has moved to the extreme on abortion in recent months. Their 2016 platform calls for a removal of the Hyde and Helms Amendment’s which would allow for U.S. taxpayer dollars to be used for abortions both in the U.S. as well as worldwide through foreign assistance funds. Bans on such use of taxpayer dollars have been in place for a generation and have always enjoyed bi-partisan support. According to the same Knights of Columbus/Marist Poll, removing these amendments is opposed by 62% of Americans including 45% of those identifying as pro-choice.
If the Democratic Party wants to take back state legislative chambers, governorships and Congress, they need to stop supporting legislation that is so outside the mainstream. In an 80% majority, Democrats support restrictions on abortion, according to KOC/Marist. To truly grow the party and get back to the historic margins it had after the 2008 election, Democrats across the country need to open up the big tent to the 21 million Pro-Life Democrats. Only together, working with and including Pro-Life Democrats, can we grow the party and move the country forward. Hillary Clinton is absolutely right, we are Stronger Together. It is now time to show that by becoming the party of inclusiveness.
*Matt Tuman is a DFL Fellow.