The platform approved by Democratic National Convention delegates last week supports taxpayer-funded abortion, judges who will “respect and enforce” Roe v Wade, and “LGBTQ+ inclusive, age-appropriate sex education” for schools.
It is likely the most socially liberal Democratic platform in party history.
This year marks the first time a Democratic platform has explicitly endorsed judges who back Roe, the 1973 decision that legalized abortion nationwide. (The 2016 platform didn’t mention Roe, although it did support legalized abortion.) It also is the first time a Democratic platform has endorsed LGBT-inclusive sex education.
It is only the second time a Democratic platform has explicitly called for taxpayer-funded abortion by reversing the Hyde Amendment, a legislation provision that prohibits federal funding of abortion. (The 2016 platform was the first explicitly to oppose Hyde.)
The 2020 platform also calls for restoring Title X federal funds to Planned Parenthood that were pulled by the Trump administration. Further, it calls for federal assistance to be used to pay for abortions in other countries.
“Democrats are committed to protecting and advancing reproductive health, rights, and justice,” the 2020 platform says. “We believe unequivocally, like the majority of Americans, that every woman should be able to access high-quality reproductive health care services, including safe and legal abortion. We will repeal the Title X domestic gag rule and restore federal funding for Planned Parenthood, which provides vital preventive and reproductive health care for millions of people, especially low-income people, and people of color, and LGBTQ+ people, including in underserved areas.
“Democrats oppose and will fight to overturn federal and state laws that create barriers to reproductive health and rights. We will repeal the Hyde Amendment, and protect and codify the right to reproductive freedom. We condemn acts of violence, harassment, and intimidation of reproductive health providers, patients, and staff. We will address the discrimination and barriers that inhibit meaningful access to reproductive health care services, including those based on gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, race, income, disability, geography, and other factors. Democrats oppose restrictions on medication abortion care that are inconsistent with the most recent medical and scientific evidence and that do not protect public health.”
On Roe v. Wade, the platform says, “We will appoint U.S. Supreme Court justices and federal judges who look like America, are committed to the rule of law, will uphold individual civil rights and civil liberties as essential components of a free and democratic society, and will respect and enforce foundational precedents, including Brown v. Board of Education and Roe v. Wade.”
The platform supports “the repeal of” the Mexico City Policy, a policy that requires international organizations that receive federal funds to agree not to perform or promote abortions. It dates back to the Reagan administration and has been opposed by Democratic presidents and supported by Republicans. The platform also opposes the Helms Amendment, a policy that prohibits foreign assistance being used directly in performing abortions.
On sex education, the platform says Democrats “recognize” that “medically accurate, LGBTQ+ inclusive, age-appropriate sex education” is “essential to ensuring that people can decide if, when, and how to start a family.” (The 2016 platform only mentioned “sex education.”)
Although Gallup’s surveys consistently show public support for Roe, they also show support for pro-life restrictions on abortion that have been prohibited by the Supreme Court. A 2018 Gallup survey even showed that most Americans oppose abortion being legal unless the woman has a specific reason, such as her life is in danger or she was raped. A majority said they oppose legal abortion “when the woman does not want the child for any reason.”
The Democratic platform has changed dramatically over the years. The 1996, 2000, and 2004 platforms said the goal of Democrats was to make abortion “rare.” That word was dropped from the platform when Barack Obama ran in 2008.
In 1976 and 1980 – with Baptist and Democrat Jimmy Carter the nominee – the platform endorsed legalized abortion but referenced the “religious and ethical” concerns “many Americans” have about abortion. That language was dropped in 1984.
Photo courtesy: Getty Images/Alex Wong/Staff
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.