As the Democratic Party has become more extreme on abortion, pro-life Democrats have been speaking up. The Democratic Party’s official platform now calls for the repeal of the Hyde Amendment, something that pro-life Democrats have been protesting. Led by Democrats for Life of America, these people are demanding that the party make room for them, even though they are by and large shunned by party leaders.
Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards was awarded the Governor Casey Whole Life Leadership Award by Democrats for Life of America on Wednesday, where he spoke about the challenges of being a pro-life Democrat. Edwards has earned a 100% pro-life voting record, including signing a dismemberment abortion ban into law, as well as other pro-life measures, like defunding abortion facilities in Louisiana, extending the abortion waiting period from one day to three days, and requiring physicians be board-certified or certifiable in obstetrics and gynecology or in family medicine before they can perform abortions. While Edwards describes himself as a “proud Democrat,” he says that being a pro-life Democrat is a “bigger challenge than it should be.”
Edwards points out that while pro-life Democrats can be successful, “it’s going to be increasingly difficult to navigate these waters if the party doesn’t moderate on this issue.” He wants the Democratic Party to understand that there are more pro-life Democrats out there than they may think — and that pro-life Democrats must speak up. “[S]ometimes it’s easier for those folks who feel like we do on this issue to remain silent … but remaining silent isn’t going to get the job done,” he said.
While party leadership continues to fight measures like safety regulations for abortion clinics and the banning of taxpayer funding, they are leaving not only pro-life party members behind, but Americans of all political persuasions. Americans overwhelmingly support increased safety regulations for abortion clinics, including hospital admitting privileges for abortionists and holding abortion facilities to the same standards as ambulatory surgical centers. Even a majority of Americans who describe themselves as “pro-choice” support these measures. Americans also do not support taxpayer-funded abortion, again including Americans who describe themselves as “pro-choice.”
The Democratic Party’s constituents have spoken loud and clear about where they stand on abortion, but the question remains: will the party listen? Until then, Democrats like Edwards are continuing to speak up and demand that they be included in the party’s big tent.