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Democratic party must become pro-life

| Friday, November 12, 2004

Two questions should be asked before, during, and after every election: 1) What hopes do we have for the future, and 2) How do we get there from here? Those questions should be asked by both the general population and also by individual political parties and movements.

As a moderate Democrat I hope for more jobs, better schools, safe communities and an increased availability of healthcare for all Americans. In the wake of President George W. Bush’s clear victory I, like many Democrats, have trouble seeing a definitive path towards my hopes for this nation.

However, there is a bold and clear move the Democratic Party must make sooner rather than later – move the party’s platform from a pro-choice to a pro-life stance on abortion.

It is politically impossible to take a middle of the road position on abortion. The Democratic Party should create a platform opposing abortion except in cases of rape, incest and the mother’s health. The Democratic Party should continue to welcome pro-choice members but insist on pro-life leadership. Roe v. Wade is now destined to be overturned, leaving abortion up to the states. At that point, if the Democrats are still the “abortion party,” Republicans will sweep to power in at least 30 state legislatures and governor’s offices in order to outlaw abortion at the state level. Sen. John Kerry was not the only loser. On Nov. 2, the pro-life movement struck a fatal blow to the pro-choice position. The sooner the Democratic Party realizes this, the better.

Abortion is a unique issue which is not central to the basic principles of the Democratic Party. Contrary to the opinion of many, abortion is not a critical component in the ongoing fight for women’s rights. Abortion as a political issue has actually threatened the future advancement of core women’s rights issues such as equal pay for equal work legislation. Bush was not the only clear victor Nov. 2; the pro-life movement also scored a resounding victory. With more than 20 percent of voters saying “moral issues” were the most important issues to them, and 80 percent of those voters backing Bush, the pro-life electoral equivalent of an ace-in-the-hole pushed Bush to victory. It seems that many Democrats do not fully comprehend the weight the abortion issue carries, especially in rural areas. I come from a small farm in southern Indiana and have seen abortion single handedly negate the progressive beliefs of many good men and women.

I remember one time discussing politics with a friend, I noticed her views were very decidedly left of center. However, when I asked her for whom she was going to vote she instantly replied, “George Bush” and then, automatically acknowledging the inconsistency in her position said, “Bryan, I just can’t vote for someone who won’t end abortion.” People like the ones from my hometown are the lower-middle class, economically progressive voters who provided Bush with a wide margin of victory in rural areas due to Bush’s pro-life stance. Although I firmly believe single-issue voting threatens our democracy by allowing a small part of the electorate to decide policy, there is no feasible way to end the practice.

I realize distancing ourselves from the pro-choice position will not instantly create droves of converts to the Democratic Party. However, by supporting the pro-life movement we will open the minds of millions of Americans to the Democratic arguments on various issues. I look forward to the debate about Democratic principles, we are the party of civil rights, economic and educational opportunity for all and, albeit cliché, we are indeed the party of hope. I believe we can win a debate in this country about core Democratic values. Let it be known to all who wish to look to the future that while the pro-choice movement has been defeated, Democratic ideals have not. They are not one and the same.

Bryan Hambley


Zahm Hall

Nov. 11