Democratic abortion platform wins points from some pro-lifers

August 12, 2008

DALLAS – The Democratic Party remains staunchly behind a woman’s right to choose an abortion.

But the platform statement on the issue that will be adopted at the party’s presidential nominating convention in Denver later this month has been well received by some pro-life Christians, who rtr1w5c6.jpgapplaud its emphasis on abortion reduction.

On a conference call Tuesday with journalists, several leading evangelical and Catholic activists welcomed the stress on abortion reduction as the “common ground” between those who support abortion rights and those who oppose them (camps which describe themselves as pro-choice and pro-life).

A draft of the platform circulating last week — which insiders say has had few changes — said “The Democratic Party strongly and unequivocally supports Roe v. Wade (the 1973 Supreme Court ruling granting women a constitutional right to abortion) and a woman’s right to choose a safe and legal abortion.”

But it also recognized the role of health care, education and “caring adoption programs” in reducing “the need for abortions.”

The language seems to be more of a change of emphasis than a radical change from past positions.

But it does strike a chord with some centrist evangelicals and Catholics who feel the pro-life and Republican Party aim of overturning Roe V. Wade has been futile and has not reduced abortions or offered support to low income women who may choose to terminate their pregnancies for economic reasons.

Joel Hunter, a prominent evangelical mega-pastor from Florida who describes himself as a “completely pro-life” conservative Christian and registered Republican, hailed the shift in emphasis as “courageous and historic.”

Jim Wallis, a leading figure on the religious left, said he saw it as “sorely needed common ground.”

“We could truly make reducing the abortion rate in America a non-partisan issue and a bipartisan cause. It is a common-sense approach,” he said in an earlier statement.

Chris Korzen, executive director of Catholics United, also welcomed the move.

Their positive reaction to the platform’s language points to a broader shift among U.S. evangelical and other Christian movements to a wider “agenda of life” that includes a helping hand to the poor.

Not everyone in the anti-abortion rights camp is happy with the language. For many conservative Christians abortion is the taking of an innocent life, period.

Tom McClusky, the vice-president of government affairs at the Family Research Council, a conservative lobby group with strong evangelical ties, told Reuters that he didn’t really see how the Democratic Party’s take on the question had changed.

Abortion remains one of the most divisive and emotive issues in U.S. politics and it is a divide that has tended to follow partisan fault lines.

John McCain, the Republican candidate for the Nov. 4 presidential election, has long opposed abortion rights; his Democratic opponent Barack Obama strongly supports abortion rights.

How the Democratic shift will affect the presidential election is difficult to judge. Will it give Obama a gap to poach some support from evangelical Republicans who are lukewarm on McCain? Or will it harden the resolve of abortion rights opponents?

Click here for more Reuters 2008 campaign coverage.

Photo Credit: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque (Pro-life signs outside U.S. Supreme Court after anti-abortion protest Jan. 22)


We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see

I’m big time pro-life and vote as such but by putting my money where my mouth is to encourage adoptions, prenatal care and counseling to young women that are considering abortion I feel that is the best way for me to make a difference. Yes abstenence and/or prevention is the best route but after the fact the judgement doesn’t help anyone and may force a person to feel the need to end a pregnacy. Show some love people, and not just with words.

Posted by Scott | Report as abusive

I am an avid pro-life supporter who also supports Obama. Why?

Pragmatic approach to abortion reduction.

I believe the best way to reduce abortions is to reduce unwanted pregnancies.

The best way to reduce unwanted pregnancies is to use effective birth control.

The best way to get the public to use birth control consistently is to have doctors prescribe effective birth control.

The best way to get doctors and patients to gether for birth control is to have Universal Healthcare, or at least programs that severely press for the use of birth control where it is needed.

Obama is our best chance to reduce abortions because he will reduce unwanted prenancies by establishing more prevalent healthcare for the poor.

If the populace uses birth control, 99% of abortions can be prevented.

Once we reach that place. Then we work to rid the world of those abortions through legislation and judges. However, pragmatic approach works best.

Posted by Josh | Report as abusive

It’s not just Christians, either. We pro-life nonbelievers, as well as Jews and people of other faiths, tend to be forgotten. I think that, although we still have a lot of work to do, pro-life Democrats should be proud of having gotten language into the platform that commits the Democratic Party to supporting women who choose life for their children.

Posted by Jen R | Report as abusive

wait, wait, i know lets just reinstate the forced sterilization where only the pit-jolies of the world are allowed to have children. that way we will end world poverty and everyone will be beautiful, rich and famous!

on a serious note has anyone you known reached life w/o first being a fertilized egg? i personally know of several sperm and eggs seperate from each other which have never reached life alone, but together they = a life

Posted by amber | Report as abusive

Guess what, ‘effective birth control’ has been readily available for 4 decades. Guess what? Since the advent of birth control, what happened to legal abortion–it’s skyrocketed. Sex ed has been in the schools, on MTV and bus benches (Use “concom-sense” with a 9 year old girl from Tucson posing)….That tac has failed dreadfully, and by the fruits you shall know the tree: to boot, we have in America the STD Epdemic of the world.Oops, forgot about that didn’t we? Most STD’s, in case anyone forgot, are not curable and are transmittable to the next generation so how is that “good” family planning? Sex before marriage is narcissistic child abuse in so many senses of the word.

Posted by Deean | Report as abusive

As a society, we obsess about the life of the unborn while failing miserably to protect and cherish the lives of the born. We do not provide health care for all children. Over two billion living children in the world go hungry each day. Millions die from preventable diseases, from lack of clean water or medicines. Thousands are killed in wars, destroyed by bombs, maimed by land mines or shot down as collateral damage in conflicts they did not create. We act as if a child’s right to life terminates at birth.

Posted by andre | Report as abusive