More than 100 current and former Democratic leaders signed a letter printed in the New York Times Sunday saying the party’s “extreme position” on abortion is “alienating voters” and that many Democratic leaders are “radically out of line with public opinion.”
The letter was part of a full-page ad in the newspaper and was endorsed by several current politicians, including Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards, U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson (Minn.) and Louisiana state Rep. Katrina Jackson. Among the former legislators who signed the letter were former U.S. Sen. Ben Nelson (Neb.) and former U.S. Rep. Bart Stupak (Mich.).
Pro-Life Democrats will NOT leave the Party to be controlled by the abortion lobby. We are serious about protecting ALL life and advocating for whole life policies from womb to tomb. Here is our FULL PAGE ad in today's New York Times. #openthebigtent #DiversityandInclusion pic.twitter.com/2zrxPRALTv— Kristen Day (@ProLifeDem) September 20, 2020
All total, the letter included the signatures of four governors and lieutenant governors, nine current or former members of Congress, 57 state legislators and 33 local officials.
It was organized by Democrats For Life Of America.
The letter says the pro-life Democrats are united by three “major concerns”:
- “We are concerned that many Democratic leaders support policies on abortion that are radically out of line with public opinion. Many Democratic leaders support abortion at any time, for any reason; this position is opposed by 79% of Americans. The 2016 Democratic Platform endorses taxpayer funding of abortion, opposed by a supermajority of the population. The same platform endorses taxpayer funding of abortion in developing countries, opposed by three-fourths of voters,” the letter says, referencing Marist surveys.
- “We are concerned that, due to this wide disparity, the Democratic Party is alienating voters. In 389 out of 435 Congressional districts, a majority of voters support a ban on abortion after 20 weeks. When Democratic leaders support late-term abortion, they push many voters into the arms of the Republican Party. Many people holding pro-life views are single-issue voters,” the letter says, referencing a July Gallup poll.
- “Finally, we are concerned about the betrayal of Democratic Party values. An extreme position on abortion rights violates our commitment to inclusivity and diversity. Polling consistently shows that one in three Democrats is pro-life,” the letter says, quoting a 2019 Gallup survey. “We must respect and include these 21 million Democrats.”
The letter says Democrats should reintroduce “conscience language” from the 2000 platform into the 2020 platform “which acknowledges that Americans have differing and deeply held views on abortion.”
“We call upon the Democratic Party to avoid divisive policies, such as passing a law in Congress defining a right to abortion (‘codifying Roe v. Wade’) and introducing taxpayer-funded abortion (‘repealing the Hyde Amendment’),” the letter says. “Fundamentally, we believe that every single state and county in this country deserves Democratic governance. We should not cede large swathes of the United States to the Republican Party. In the U.S., pro-life Democrats have been a critical part of the coalition to expand voting rights, improve health care, and pass criminal justice reform. These accomplishments would not have been possible if the Democratic Party had in place a litmus test on abortion.”
Kristen Day, executive director of Democrats for Life, said in a news release that Hillary Clinton and Democrats “lost to Donald Trump because they failed to take moderate and pro-life voters seriously.”
“If the Democratic Party cares about defeating President Trump in November, it should reject abortion extremism and actively embrace America's 21 million pro-life Democrats, or else many of them will simply stay home,” Day said. “It’s not too late for Joe Biden and our Party. Democrats could be more tolerant and welcoming of diverse voters by moderating on taxpayer funding of abortion and the Hyde Amendment, distancing itself from late-term abortion, and supporting abortion regulations that at least keep it safe for the woman.”
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Hagen Hopkins/Stringer
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.