.- Speaking at the Democrats for Life town hall meeting in Denver on Wednesday, pro-life Democratic politicians praised Sen. Bob Casey, Jr.’s DNC floor speech and discussed what they saw as a growing openness to pro-lifers in the Democratic Party. Charging that Republicans have done nothing to reflect their professed pro-life views, the speakers called for further government support for pregnant women and adoption programs.
Tennessee Congressman Lincoln Davis, North Carolina Congressman Heath Shuler, and Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey, Jr. addressed an audience of more than sixty guests and members of the press gathered at Denver’s Hotel Monaco were joined by Tennessee Democrat Bob Tuke, a nominee for the U.S. Senate who favors legalized abortion.
Several other speakers at the town hall spoke about pro-life policy and the consequences of abortion. Their remarks are reported elsewhere on CNA.
Rep. Lincoln Davis
Rep. Davis told how his pro-life convictions were strengthened by the loss of two children to miscarriage before beginning his reflection on the state of abortion-related politics.
“In the last 28 years, we have seen huge differences and divisiveness on the issue of abortion. In many situations, quite frankly, that issue alone has elected a member of Congress to the House or a member of Congress to the U.S. Senate.
“It’s time that we take the politics out of abortion,” he urged. “Probably we will never see that happen,” he conceded, but he said it was pleasing to see that lawmakers can begin to reduce the numbers of abortions.
“For me, it is time that the debate moves to a different level. And that different level is the bill that we have introduced, both Republicans and Democrats, that will help reduce the number of abortions by up to 95 percent over the next 10 years.”
He praised Kristen Day and Democrats for Life as an “unbelievable champion of this.”
“It is a blessing to know that at least for the first time, our Democratic Party has made reducing abortions a major part of the Democratic Party platform.”
Criticizing the Republican Party, he noted that seven of the nine Supreme Court justices who voted in favor of Roe v. Wade were Republican appointees.
Casey’s convention speech on Tuesday, Davis said, was very significant because it was one of the first times that Democrats allowed a senator to say he disagreed with many Democrats on the issue of abortion. According to Davis, Casey’s father Robert Casey, Sr. was not allowed to “make the same speech he made last night.”
Commenting on popular opinion regarding abortion, he said “Seventy percent believe that an abortion takes a life. That’s pretty startling.”
If Democrats continue to have only a “stark contrast” with the Republican platform, he said, “I think we start losing.” There is “too much work to be done” to allow abortion to be “the one issue that takes us down,” Davis argued.
“I’m excited that Democrats at this convention are listening to those of us who believe that we have to champion the unborn child.”
Senate Candidate Bob Tuke
Senate candidate Robert Tuke, who favors legalized abortion, said it did not matter to him when human life has legal status, but it does matter to take care of women and the children who are born, and to reduce the number of abortions.
“The Pregnant Women Support Act is critical to achieving that,” he said, voicing his pride that the Democratic Party has, in his view, included it in the platform.
“I want all children to be born,” he professed, but said caring for them is a matter of “finding how to do it.”
Tuke also endorsed programs encouraging adoption targeted towards women in college or high school.
“In 1973, nearly nine percent of births resulted in adoption. By the year 2000, that had dropped to one percent. Why is that?” he asked, claiming that the lack of adoption information was a problem.
Turning critical, Tuke said people who argue about abortion should “solve the problem and stop bickering about it.”
He too criticized the Republican Party, alleging it uses abortion to create “wedge issues” and to “score political points.”
Rep. Heath Shuler
Heath Shuler, a U.S. Representative from North Carolina, then took the floor, saying, “Democrats who are pro-life Democrats make a difference in our platform.”
He said it is necessary for pro-life Democrats to be not just pro-life “from conception to birth,” but also “from conception through natural death.”
When people hear Shuler is pro-life, he recounted, they say “you gotta be a Republican.”
“No way!” he replied, claiming that the Democrats are right on SCHIP, Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security.
“As Democrats we’ve got our work cut out for us, no doubt,” but he said that there are other issues like Medicare Part D that “we don’t talk enough about how this is a life issue.”
Shuler recounted how Bill Clinton once went to Shuler’s Baptist Church with him, where the pastor was talking about abortion.
“Look, as a church you can talk all you want, we have to do something about it. Until you as a Republican or you as a Democrat does something about it, it will only be talk,” Clinton argued with the pastor.
According to Shuler, Clinton told how his church committed itself to reach out to mothers in need.
‘You know what? Most of them needed just a hug and someone to say that they loved them. And that made a difference in whether or not they saved that unborn child’s life,’ Clinton said according to Shuler.
Shuler said the Republicans will continue to hold a “trump card” in their hand and blamed them for being hypocritical by not doing something when they controlled all branches of the federal government.
When asked to respond to Obama’s pro-abortion comments about not wanting his daughter “punished with a baby,” Shuler replied that “there is nothing greater than having my daughter sitting in my lap” or kissing his kids goodnight.
“As a community we should be able to show that by support for women who maybe have that uncertainty,” he said.
“We have to make a difference as pro-life Democrats. And that’s why I’m a strong supporter for Democrats for Life,” he concluded.
Before the event turned to the next speaker Kristen Day, Democrats for Life president, especially thanked Shuler for his vote against funding embryonic stem cell research.
Obama & The Freedom of Choice Act
Several of the politicians also offered their opinion when they were asked about Sen. Obama’s support for the Freedom of Choice Act, which would remove almost all federal restrictions on abortion.
Sen. Casey said he could not agree with it, Rep. Shuler said he did not see it passing the House, and Rep. Davis was confident it was not going to pass.
Tuke, the senatorial candidate, said he could not support the act unless it was “substantially amended to provide additional protection to mothers.”
Rev. Clenard Childress, pastor of the New Calvary Baptist Church in Montclair, New Jersey, spoke after most of the legislators and candidates had left. Rev. Childress rebuked the use of the political argument which claims that Democrats are better than Republicans because the latter only believe in respecting life from “conception to birth.”
“Reducing abortion should be something that both parties should agree on,” he said. “But because someone failed the first nine months, but then they do better the next nine months… does that make your failure justified?
“I don’t understand the analogy. Yes, I hear it all the time. ‘What about after the baby gets here?’
“Well if I need a grant, if I need an education, if I need help, I first have to get here,” he countered.
Speaking to CNA after the town hall meeting, Kristen Day said the convention had gone “very well” for pro-life Democrats.
“There hasn’t been a big focus on the abortion issue at this convention, and it’s very encouraging to hear people talk about helping pregnant women, and to have pro-life Democrats leading and speaking at the convention, being part of the party, and also part of the platform.”
“So it’s been a very encouraging week, and we’ve had nothing but support. People are welcoming us. It’s been a very good week,” she said.