US Catholic Faith in Real Life

Will Democrats become the new pro-life party?

By Scott Alessi | Print this pagePrint |

We've heard many times, especially in recent years, that true Catholics can never support the Democratic Party for one simple reason: the party's pro-choice platform. But if some Democrats get their way, that platform could be changing.

The Democrats for Life of America have launched a campaign to change the language of the party's platform on abortion. Their efforts follow a call from former President Jimmy Carter, who in a recent interview made his own plea to the party to "minimize the need... for abortion and limit it only to women whose life [is] in danger or who are pregnant as a result of rape or incest.”

Kristen Day, executive director of Democrats for Life, has called for a "big tent policy" that would make the party as a whole more inclusive of people who support Democratic ideals but are opposed to abortion. When I interviewed Day a few months back for our story in the January issue of U.S. Catholic on new pro-life strategies, she pointed out the rising tide of pro-life Democrats and the growing numbers who support efforts to restrict abortion. But she also noted that the issue is still divisive for Democrats, hence the need for a new party line on the issue.

“Expanding our big tent policy with more neutral language on abortion will bring estranged Democrats back and allow pro-choice and pro-life Democrats to work together for common-sense policies that provide for the poor, protect the environment, provide affordable and quality education for our future generations," Day said in a press release this week. By focusing on policies that empower women, she added, the demand for abortions would also decrease--which is something that members of both political parties should be able to agree is a common goal.

The Democrats for Life have launched an online petition to call for this change to the party's platform. If their efforts are a success it probably will not mean the end of abortion in the United States. It won't even mean that no candidate will support pro-choice policies. But it would help to end the myth that being a Democrat always means being in favor of abortion, and it would give Catholics the opportunity to choose their political party without fear of being ostracized for their pro-life views.