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Election Life

At convention, pro-life Dems fight for the unborn, a broader platform and relevance

Five months ago, U.S. Rep. Dan Lipinski experienced a fate common to many Democrats who dare to lean toward the middle these days: a radical lefty ousted the eight-term congressman from Chicago in the Democratic primary. 

Lipinski’s loss demonstrated that Democrats who advocate for “diversity” above all else only pay lip service to the ideal. Lipinski, a Catholic, was one of just three openly pro-life Democrats left in the House, joined there by Reps. Henry Cuellar of Texas and Collin Peterson of Minnesota, both of whom have also appeared on the politically endangered species list.

Joe Biden, who will formally become the party’s presidential nominee this week, affirms the wind is blowing further left.

Last year, after 43 years of supporting the Hyde Amendment, which bans federal funding for abortions in all cases except rape and incest, Biden, a Catholic, abandoned that position to further his quest for the White House.

But on Monday as Democrats kicked off their 2020 “convention” in Milwaukee, rank-and-file pro-life Democrats were fighting against being fossilized like Lipinski.

According to the Catholic News Agency, they argued that the party platform, which has grown increasingly hostile to pro-life activists in recent election cycles, should push for a “whole life” approach.

As CNA reported, pro-life Democrats at the convention said that means “caring for the unborn, migrants, and the poor, as well as fighting for racial and climate justice.”

Their public intramural protest came just days after 105 current and retired pro-life Democratic politicians submitted a letter to party leaders calling for the party’s platform to soften its stance on abortion and to be more receptive to anti-abortion members, the 21 million of whom reportedly make up one-third of the Democratic Party. That list included Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards, who in 2019 enacted a “heartbeat bill,” and Louisiana state Sen. Katrina Jackson, who drafted the state law that required abortion doctors to have hospital admitting privileges.

Speaking outside the convention on Monday, according to CNA, Jackson said, “To totally exclude those who believe in life is a grave error. Am I to be excluded because I believe black lives matter in the womb?”

Democrats for Life of America Executive Director Kristen Day added, “We will not be ignored. We will not be silenced. And we will make sure that our vote matters in the election cycle.”

Yet ignored they were. 

Day noted 2020 was the first time that the pro-life caucus was not officially recognized by the Democratic National Convention.

Meanwhile, the draft of the party’s official platform, which delegates are expected to endorse this week, includes pledges to restore federal funding for Planned Parenthood; oppose and fight to overturn federal and state laws that create barriers to abortion; repeal the Hyde Amendment; codify Roe v. Wade; and support free prescription contraceptives. 

“These efforts have significantly reduced teen and unintended pregnancies by making it easier to decide whether, when, and how to have a child,” the platform states.

In a separate interview, Day told the Catholic magazine America, “For a long time, pro-life Democrats were silent because they were afraid of pushback. I’m tired of being silent. I’m tired of the party saying that we don’t belong.”

“The ball’s in our court,” she added. “If we want to win, we have to be the big-tent party. Why are we turning away 21 million pro-life voters? The party has to decide if they want to die on this hill. If we lose, it’s going to be because of this issue.”

That’s arguable, but it’s clear that until the likes of Lipinski, Jackson and Day gather more clout within the Democratic Party, the ultimate losers will be the unborn.

PHOTO: CNS photo/courtesy Gregory A. Shemitz/America Magazine

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