The Dilemma of Pro-Life Democrats

by Howard Kainz

Democrats for Life in America (DFLA) was founded in 1999 on the premise that approximately one-third of Democrats are pro-life; and it has been valiantly championing the pro-life cause in congressional and presidential elections since that time. The pro-life Democrats include many who are against unrestricted elective abortions, and/or who favor exceptions for rape, incest, and threats to the life of the mother.

In spite of considerable opposition from fellow Democrats, they find their home in the Democratic Party on the basis of their belief that this is the party that offers the fullest support for women, not just in cases of difficult pregnancy decisions; and they believe the Democratic Party can be relied on to guarantee social “safety nets” for those who need them. Also, there is the widespread belief that the Democratic Party is the party with the history of protecting civil rights (a mistaken belief which I discussed in a recent column).

The DFLA has a policy of never endorsing Republicans; however, they did refuse to endorse “pro-choice” John Kerry in the 2004 election against Bush. On their website, they state their comprehensive pro-life purpose:”Democrats for Life of America exists to foster respect for life, from the beginning of life to natural death. This includes, but is not limited to, opposition to abortion, capital punishment, and euthanasia. Democrats for Life of America is one of over 200 member organizations of Consistent Life: an international network for peace, justice and life.”

Those readers who are familiar with Cardinal Bernardin’s “seamless garment” position on life issues during the 1990s will recognize a similarity of language in the above statement, which may not be coincidental.

In the 2010 Congressional elections the DFLA suffered considerable losses. They lamented the fact that fourteen pro-life members of Congress either retired or were defeated by Republicans, thus contributing to the control of the House of Representatives by Republicans

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