The Democratic Party suffered staggering losses in the election, and since then, there have been numerous discussions about what the party needs to do to become successful again. One thing not mentioned often is the party’s extreme stance on abortion. This year, the Democratic Party officially added the repeal of the Hyde Amendment, the overturning of all federal and state pro-life laws, and the funding of Planned Parenthood to its official party platform. At the time, pro-life Democrats spoke out. Now, it’s not just pro-life Democrats who are speaking out; in Paste Magazine, self-described pro-abortion advocate Stephen Markley wrote that the Democratic Party needs to embrace pro-lifers if it is going to compete nationally.
Markley points out that the American people are not overwhelmingly “pro-choice.” Rather, there is a fairly even split between those who describe themselves as pro-life versus those who describe themselves as pro-choice. “During the Bush years, pro-choice identification nudged upward, and during the Obama presidency, pro-life respondents had the edge,” Markley wrote. “Currently it stands at 47% to 46%, respectively. In the latest poll, 29% said it should be legal in all circumstances, 19% illegal in all circumstances, and a full 50% said legal only in some circumstances. You can see almost these same exact numbers if you scroll back to the year 1989.”
He also acknowledges that this divide includes women, who by no means vote as a pro-choice bloc — and says treating them as such can be offensive. “The idea that women monolithically believe in access to abortion is one of the more counter-productive myths, one that women who disagree with abortion find enraging,” he said, adding:
Fluctuating between 2001 and 2015, women have at several different points in time been found to identify as pro-choice at a lower rate than men. 2015 marks the high-water mark for women identifying as pro-choice at 54%. Women, in a shocking development, are the same as men in that they don’t like being told what they are supposed to believe. The fact remains that approximately half the women in this country do not identify as pro-choice, and no amount of Lena Dunham PSAs seems likely to change this.
And while the younger generation could arguably be moving left on a variety of issues, abortion is not one of them. “[T]he needle on abortion has not moved at all,” Markley noted. “53% of 18-34 year-olds identify as pro-choice, fewer than in 2001. There is some evidence that young people are even less accepting of abortion than their parents.”
It’s clearly not a wise move for the Democratic Party to ignore these people so they can be slaves to the abortion industry. And pro-life Democrats have been fighting to be included for a long time, only to find themselves repeatedly rebuffed. Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards, for example, calls himself a “proud Democrat,” but says being a pro-life Democrat is “a bigger challenge than it should be.” He said that while it’s possible for pro-life Democrats to be successful, “it’s going to be increasingly difficult to navigate these waters if the party doesn’t moderate on this issue.” The more extreme on abortion the party becomes, the harder it is for pro-life Democrats to find a place in the party.
Pro-life Democrats also fought the party’s efforts to repeal the Hyde Amendment. Senator Joe Manchin, from West Virginia, said, “It’s something that I know most of the Democrats in West Virginia and most West Virginians would not agree with. I don’t either.” Senator Bob Casey, from Pennsylvania, called it “crazy” and pointed out “that many Americans remain morally opposed to abortion, and do not wish to see their tax dollars go to pay for abortion.”
Polls also have shown that around one-third of registered Democrats describe themselves as pro-life.
The Democratic Party cannot continue with this extreme position on abortion. The majority of Democrats approve of pro-life regulations, such as parental consent requirements, 24-hour waiting periods, a partial-birth abortion ban, ultrasound requirements, and informed consent laws. Democrats (and all politicians) need to remember that they represent Americans — not the abortion industry.