.- Attempting to find âcommon ground on abortion,â former Indiana U.S. Representative Timothy Roemer, a pro-life Catholic Democrat, and Rev. Dr. Susan Brooks Thistlewaite, a pro-choice Democrat and president of the United Church of Christ-affiliated Chicago Theological Seminary, spoke on the âFaith in Actionâ panel at the Democratic National Convention in Denver on Tuesday.
The two speakers, addressing delegates and guests gathered in a ballroom at the Colorado Convention Center, professed a shared desire to reduce the number of abortions and to establish a âweb of supportâ for poorer women who are considering having an abortion.
Citing Robert F. Kennedyâs exhortation to work to reduce the number of suffering children, Roemer defended the possibility of finding common ground on the issue.
âIf we can do it with issues like jobs and health care, we can do it on abortion,â he said.
Roemer mentioned the group Democrats for Lifeâs â95-10â policy to reduce the abortion rate by 95 percent over the next ten years âwithin the law and legal system today.â
He said Sen. Obama has put âstrong, binding languageâ in the Democratic Party platform that âall Catholics can be proud of.â Characterizing the platform as a âtwo-prongedâ approach, he described its two aims of pregnancy prevention and supporting pregnant women so that they do not feel compelled to have an abortion because of economic need.
As part of prevention efforts, Roemer advocated contraception and âappropriateâ sex education.
As part of efforts to help pregnant women, Roemer endorsed creating a âweb of supportâ and increasing government programs and funding for women, infants and children. He also said tax credits should be granted to encourage people of âvery, very, modest meansâ to be âout there adopting babies and giving encouragement along those avenues.â
At one point, Roemer blasted the Republican Party, claiming its policy is to attack and argue and use abortion as a âwedge issueâ to win elections. He argued their goals are not really to preserve and save life, and repeated a frequent Democrat slogan accusing Republicans of acting as if they believe that life âbegins at conception and ends at birth.â
He also said he supported Sen. Barack Obama âbecause of his stands on faithâ and pointed to the candidateâs work as a community organizer in Chicago, where he had worked with the Catholic Church âto help people get jobsâ and secure unemployment benefits.
Rev. Dr. Susan Brooks Thistlewaite followed Rep. Roemerâs speech. While Thistlewaite stressed that she was proud of her support for Roe v. Wade, and âin favor of choice,â she said she was in favor of women having lots of choices.
Her belief that a good society âallows you to make choices,â she said, led her to endorse programs that would âreduce the need for abortions.â
âWhat kind of a choice is it if you are afraid on the one hand, of terminating a pregnancy or being poor, not being able to educate yourself, not being able to have health care, and not being able to have your kids grow and thrive?â she asked.
Citing the high murder rate of pregnant women, Thistlewaite encouraged better and more widespread programs against domestic violence. She advocated various other political actions, including more funding for the State Childrenâs Health Insurance Program, SCHIP; increased pre-natal and post-natal care programs; and expanded family and medical leave.
Noting that the higher level of education a woman has, the lower her risk of teen pregnancy, she also endorsed education efforts targeted at young women.
Early in Thistlewaiteâs presentation, she was briefly interrupted by two pro-life protesters, one of whom asked âDoes that little child have a choice?â as he was escorted out of the ballroom.
She rebuked their actions as âan example of a lack of common ground.â
In his concluding remarks, event host and Evangelical preacher Jim Wallis referred to the protesters, saying âIâm tired of all the shouting on this question. The shouting has to stop. Letâs find some common ground.â