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Draft of New Democratic Platform Language on Abortion

posted by Paul Raushenbush

Draft language for the 2008 Democratic Party platform on abortion:

The Democratic Party strongly and unequivocally supports Roe v Wade and a woman’s right to choose a safe and legal abortion, regardless of ability to pay, and we oppose any and all efforts to weaken or undermine that right.The Democratic Party also strongly supports access to affordable family planning services and comprehensive age-appropriate sex education which empower people to make informed choices and live healthy lives. We also recognize that such health care and education help reduce the number of unintended pregnancies and thereby also reduce the need for abortions. The Democratic Party also strongly supports a woman’s decision to have a child by ensuring access to and availability of programs for pre and post natal health care, parenting skills, income support, and caring adoption programs.

The 2004 Democratic Party plank on abortion:

Because we believe in the privacy and equality of women, we stand proudly for a woman’s right to choose, consistent with Roe v. Wade, and regardless of her ability to pay. We stand firmly against Republican efforts to undermine that right. At the same time, we strongly support family planning and adoption incentives. Abortion should be safe, legal, and rare.

David Brody explains.

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posted August 12, 2008 at 12:35 pm

If there were suddenly no abortion, there would be no religious right. So, in order to rid the world once and for all of the deadly, sucking virus that is the religious right, I reluctantly suggest we as a nation consider banning abortion. It might be the only way, people.

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Paul, seeking wisdom

posted August 12, 2008 at 1:13 pm

Abortion is still a death of a child. Yet the law has legalized it and there has been no effort by either party to change the law. This statement by the DNC at least opens the door for more dialogue and compromise, a first step in the healing the rift between the two sides of the issue.
If abortion clinics are required to give counseling before operating and offer alternatives to the abortions it would be a good start but it would not be likely that this would come about. After all they are in business to make money.
I am a pro-life Democrat, from the womb to the grave.

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posted August 12, 2008 at 2:16 pm

“If abortion clinics are required to give counseling before operating and offer alternatives to the abortions it would be a good start but it would not be likely that this would come about.”
When was the last time you talked to any of the staff of a women’s health clinic? Counseling about alternatives to abortion is offered, and the women are given much information about the procedure. If at any time during the counseling the woman changes her mind, the staff work with her to find resources to help her.
What people are beginning to discover is that the far right pro-lifers are all about saving lives until it costs them money. Making abortion legal is a cheap solution. Improving women’s health care isn’t cheap. Providing increased educational materials and better access to family planning isn’t cheap. Providing day-care and medical care for newborns and children so the mother can work to support them isn’t cheap.
The staff of the abortion clinics that I am familiar with are not in this for the money. If they were, they would be employed in some nice corporate health-care setting where they didn’t have to dodge picketers every day or wonder if the package sitting at their door is a bomb.
Rather than criticize, perhaps you could go and volunteer a day with one of these health clinics. Find out just what kind of advice they offer women, what services they offer, an how they go over and above the call of duty to empower women to act on their choice…even if that choice is to bear a child to term.

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posted August 12, 2008 at 4:07 pm

Another pro-life Democrat here. I’m going to repeat what I just said in response to David Gibson’s post on this same subject.
Sorry, but after reading the new language several times I really don’t see meaningful progress. What we need is a formal recognition that abortion is a tragedy, and that we all need to pull together to reduce the number of such tragedies (even though we may disagree over when abortion may be morally justified or when it should be prohibited or limited by law). Instead, we get “strongly and unequivocally supports Roe v Wade and a woman’s right to choose a safe and legal abortion….”
I really don’t think that the statement’s recognition of alternatives to abortion is of much value. That seems like an easy concession by the pro-choice side. What we need is some recognition that abortion is tragic, and that people of goodwill should work together to avoid such tragedies.
As much as I respect and admire Mr. Kmiec, I am mystified by his statement that the new platform language includes “a full-throated call for efforts to address the irresponsibility of kids having kids.” I sure don’t see that in the paragraph quoted in this post. All I see is the usual rhetoric about “empower[ing] people to make informed choices and live healthy lives.” Nothing about responsibility, restraint or commitment. And certainly no mention of the epidemic of births outside marriage.
Please don’t get me wrong. For years, I’ve been looking for a way to get enthusiastic about my party again. Its going to take more than this language. (And no, I’m not voting Republican, either. Their warmongering puts the lie to their “culture of life” rhetoric).
p.s. to James: I’m not part of the “Religious Right.” There are a significant number of pro-life Democrats out there who subscribe to a “consistent life ethic” that opposes all violence to human beings: war, poverty, abortion, euthanasia, environmental destruction, captial punishment. We deserve some respect within the Democratic Party.

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posted August 12, 2008 at 4:59 pm

Expecting the platform to call abortion “tragic” is a ridiculously high standard that is unachievable. One of the reasons that pro-life Democrats have been so unsuccessful is that they are incredibly unrealistic about their goals. The Democrats are pro-choice because they are concerned about the civil liberties and reproductive rights of women. Any position that doesn’t take that core political value to heart is just naive.

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posted August 12, 2008 at 5:13 pm

Good that the Dems are vowing to prevent unwanted pregnancies first and to create healthy pregnancies. As to the life-begins-at-conception-and-end-at-birth neo-cons, they will never admit that their platform would apply only to those who can’t afford a first class Eurpoean vacation (to a private clinicn nearest you) and would never accept a moderate platform.
As for moderate and progressive evangelical, there is a chance to find common ground.

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Asinus Gravis

posted August 12, 2008 at 6:07 pm

Finally the democrats develop an informed, intelligent pro-life platform statement.
And not surprisingly, a number of commentators ignore precisely the clear pro-life features of the statement, and concentrate on the largely unchanged aspects of the statement regarding Roe v. Wade.
Those persons who have thought through what being pro-life amounts to in our political and moral world recognize that it includes addressing the leading considerations that prompt women to seek abortions. Those include: (1) inadequate sex education and the consequent unintended pregnancies, (2) inadequate access to health care for oneself and one’s offspring, (3) inadequate or non-existent parenting skills, (4) inadequate income to support a child (or another child), (5)unaffordable child care so one can work to support a child (or another child), (6) inadequate or uncaring adoption alternatives.
All of these are relevant to manifesting an increased respect for human life, and for decreasing the too frequent abortions in our country.
One has to be abysmally ignorant to suppose that overthrowing Roe v. Wade, or passing a Constitutional Amendment making having an abortion illegal, would significantly reduce the too frequent resort to abortions in our country. We had lots of abortions before Roe v. Wade, although no accurate statistics on its frequency. Such proposals have little real connection with promoting and protecting human life in the U.S.A. or elsewhere.

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