Will Democrats become the new pro-life party?

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.

About the author

Scott Alessi

Scott Alessi is a former managing editor of U.S. Catholic.