Last month, the NY Times ran an op-ed piece titled Why Pro-Choice Is a Bad Choice for Democrats. In speaking with Democrats across America, writer Melinda Henneberger finds that conventional wisdom missed the mark about what was wrong in the last presidential contest. “Democrats did not lose support among women because ‘security moms’ saw President Bush as the better protector against terrorism," she notes. "What first-time defectors mentioned most often was abortion.”
Well Melinda, you can add me to that count. I too am a pro-life Democrat who voted for George Bush in 2004 for a single reason: Chief Justice Roberts. And while I remain appalled that I helped elect an administration that lied in order to started an arrogant war… heightened the divide between the haves and the have nots… shows no stewardship towards this home we call earth… and continues to turn their backs on those in need—day in and day out… I turn to my party and ask: what choice did you give me?
To me, fighting for the rights of the unborn is so clearly a Democratic principal… for we are the party that fights for those who are unable to fight for themselves. We are the party of justice. We are the party that understands the role government must play in standing up for the rights of those who are not in power.
For many years, I was one of those people who felt abortion was wrong, but felt individuals should be free to make up their own mind. Then two books crossed my desk at the same time: Tom Clancy’s Bear and the Dragon and Dr Seuss’ Horton Hears a Hoo. Clancy describes a procedure in China where it was legal (and in some cases required) to terminate a pregnancy – just as the head was crowning in delivery. How barbaric! It made me sick. But it also made me question… just where can you draw the line? At what point in time does taking the life of a baby cross over from a matter of personal preference... to an act that is totally barbaric and wrong for society? How about a two-year old? What about babies that are only a week old? OK, not yet delivered? 8-1/2 months? At least give me 30 weeks! Surely that voice is too small to count.
Fact is, I now know in my heart when life starts… but I am willing to concede that no one knows. And in that case, in this absence of scientific facts, we as Democrats must err on the side of the powerless. Innocent until proven guilty. A life until proven not.
I love it when pro-choice advocates counter with “what about rape victims… and mothers who would put their life in jeopardy”. Here’s my reply: fine. If you’re willing to draw the line there, I can too. But don’t ask the question if you’re not willing to step up.
Some may say I am soft on principal, but if political compromise can save even one life, then I am all for it. I am just waiting to see Democrats running for office who have the guts to speak what they know in their hearts to be true… and for a party willing to let that voice be heard.
In the interim, I'll share with you the voice that I hear: My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. (PS 139: 15-15).