In my November 6 blog, I discussed the way Democrats fail to take seriously important concerns of both evangelicals and Catholics. There I talked about religious freedom. Today I deal with abortion.
Even if you think (as I do) that on a majority of issues, Democratic proposals (e.g., on racial and and economic justice, healthcare, taxes, climate change) are closer to a biblical vision than that of Republicans, still the ever increasing refusal of Democrats to take seriously the pro-life concerns of Christians and others is a problem.
Former President Bill Clinton told a good friend of mine that the reason his wife Hillary Clinton lost Pennsylvania( and therefore the presidency) was because of her radical stand on abortion. In 2008 when she ran for the Democratic nomination, she said abortion should be” legal, safe and rare”. In 2016, she no longer said it should be rare. The head of the Democratic National Committee recently told another good friend of mine that in his circles, one did not dare even use the word “reduction” when talking about abortion.
For years a number of congressional Democrats supported the Hyde amendment which prevented government using our tax dollars to fund abortions. That action respected the beliefs of pro-life people. But Democrats no longer support that provision.
There used to be dozens of pro-life Democrats in the US Congress who supported some restrictions on abortion. Today only five are left.
The powerful, well-funded national association of Democratic state attorneys-general has recently announced that they will refuse to endorse anyone who does not support abortion and favor expanding abortion services. In the first national debate for Democratic candidates for president, one questioner asked if there was any circumstance where abortion should be restricted. Not a single Democratic candidate named any restriction.
This rigidity is politically foolish. The Gallup Paul repeatedly has shown that about 25% of Americans think abortion should never be legal. 25% think it should be legal in every situation. And about 50% think abortion should be legal ONLY in certain circumstances.
One would think the Democrats would ponder the fact that Democrats very recently won the race to be governor in two very conservative states ( West Virginia and Louisiana) where Donald Trump won by huge margins in 2016. And both successful Democratic governors endorsed a pro-life agenda that would place some restrictions on abortion.
Former Democratic senator Heidi Heitkamp is right; “There are very principled people who are Democrats, who feel very strongly about this issue [abortion] for religious reasons and when you say you’re not welcome in our party I think it is exclusionary”(New York Times, Nov. 18, p. A11).
And politically stupid!
Faithful religious people differ on what exactly the right legislation should be. Almost 75% of the American people think abortion should be legal under some circumstances. So there is no chance that all abortion will become illegal.
But is it too much to ask Democrats to say it should be rare? That our tax dollars will not pay for it? That universal health insurance and less poverty will substantially reduce the number of abortions and that that is good? And that people who describe themselves as pro-life and support some restrictions on abortion are welcome in the Democratic party?
One final point. I do NOT think that abortion trumps all other issues. Universal healthcare is a pro-life issue. So are capital punishment, climate change, racial justice and effective poverty reduction programs here and abroad. One must evaluate the entire platform of candidates and decide which set of proposals on balance is better. People who seek a biblically balanced agenda in their politics will not be “one issue” voters.
But it would sure help if Democrats welcomed (with words and legislation) people who think that initiatives that promote fewer abortions would be good public policy.
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