Two precinct captains for Biden and Buttigieg in Carroll County justified their support for the pro-abortion Democrats by pointing to Republicans, who, Richardson claimed, “don’t care about the child when it’s born,” citing proposals to cut to food stamps and pediatric education.
“What this administration has done to the children at the border,” she asked of Trump policy which separated migrant families. Richardson said the policy “breaks [her] heart” and could cause lasting trauma for children.
Buttigieg’s precinct captain Kyle Ulveling, who is also chair of the Iowa Board of Medicine, estimated that voters in Carroll were “moderate” on the abortion issue and that around 60 of the 81 caucus-goers at the Ward 1 precinct were “pro-life.”
Illustrating the gap between voters and candidates, each of the candidates that received first-ballot votes at the precinct—Yang, Warren, Sanders, Biden, Buttigieg, and Klobuchar— has come out in support of codifying Roe v. Wade into federal law, and enshrining taxpayer-funding for abortion. Three of the candidates support making abortion-inducing drugs available over-the-counter. Warren and Sanders would have abortion and contraception covered under their Medicare-for-All plans.
Some pro-life Democrats, however, are pushing for change within the party and won’t support the presidential front-runners.
One week before the caucuses, at a Des Moines townhall, Kristen Day asked Buttigieg point-blank if he wanted the support of her and other pro-life Democrats.
“I am pro-choice,” Buttigieg responded. “And I believe that a woman ought to be able to make that decision [on abortion].” He added that if pro-life Democrats wouldn’t support him for that, he understood.
Day said she received encouragement from nearby audience members for her question, but Buttigieg was also greeted with loud applause for his answer supporting legal abortion.
“We’ve had enough,” Day told CNA afterwards, calling on pro-life Democrats to hold candidates accountable on the issue.
“We are told time and time again that it is not the right time to fight for what we believe in,” Kristen Day, executive director of Democrats for Life of America, stated in a Facebook post on Tuesday. “We believe that life in the womb is worthy of protection. Our party does not.”
“Too many people whisper, ‘I am a pro-life Democrat too. Keep up the good work.’ But they fear the repercussions of stating this position in public,” Day said, adding that “our party can and should do better, and we will not be silent.”
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Lizzy Dowd, a Catholic student at Drake University in Des Moines, was present that evening. She planned to advocate for pro-life language in the party’s platform at her neighborhood precinct on Monday night.
“I am not trying to infiltrate this party with my pro-life views. Rather, I would love to just see a positive change, I’d love to see people’s minds and hearts be opened,” Dowd told CNA on Monday.
She credited her pro-life views to growing up in a household that emphasized “the mentality of the sanctity of life in action.”
“If we as Democrats are going to uphold the dignity of the person at the border, and inmates on death row, and the homeless and those struggling in poverty, then it only makes sense to uphold the life and the dignity of that child in the womb as well,” she said.
“I would love to take that one step further and respect every life.”
Another Democrat did not caucus on Monday night. Jim Plew, who attended Mass on Tuesday morning at St. Mary of Nazareth parish in suburban Des Moines, told CNA he identified as a Democrat did not caucus on Monday because of the candidates’ uniform support of abortion. Plew told CNA he was still undecided in the election.