Democrats Soften Edges on Abortion

Postby Marinepits » August 13th, 2008, 6:40 pm

http://www.abcnews.go.com/Politics/Vote ... 597&page=1

Abortion Rights Opponent Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., to Speak at Democratic Convention
By RICK KLEIN and TEDDY DAVIS
Aug. 13, 2008

The Democratic Party is planning a convention designed to soften the edges on the party's support for abortion rights, with a revamped platform and a speaking lineup that reinforces efforts to broaden Democrats' appeal on the hot-button issue.

In a statement fraught with symbolism for those on both sides of the abortion debate, Sen. Bob Casey Jr., D-Pa., an abortion-rights opponent, will be given a prime speaking slot at the Democratic National Convention in Denver later this month.

Casey's father, the late Pennsylvania Gov. Robert Casey, a Democrat who also held strong anti-abortion views, was denied a speaking role at the party's 1992 convention -- a perceived snub that has long been a flashpoint in the party's wrangling over how to handle the abortion-rights debate on the national stage.

In addition, Democrats have adopted a platform that builds on the party's traditional language about preserving Roe v. Wade with pledges to support women who decide against having abortions.

"No one expects the Democratic Party not to support Roe v. Wade, but here we've gone from dogmatic positions to practical solutions," said the Rev. Jim Wallis, a prominent voice in the religious left who consulted with party leaders on ways to signal the party's commitment to reducing the number of abortions.

"The language in the platform is a real step forward," Wallis added. "For those women who want to take the child to term, it strongly supports that choice and provides necessary support."

The change in tone is an outgrowth of years-long efforts by prominent party leaders -- including Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada (Reid opposes abortion rights) -- to change the way the Democratic Party talks about abortion rights, if not the way the issue is approached on policy grounds.

In some ways, it's a mirror-image of efforts by national Republicans, who used their 2004 convention, for example, to highlight prominent party members who support abortion rights, including former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Republican Convention to Feature Abortion Rights Proponents
While Sen. John McCain is a longtime opponent of abortion rights, next month's Republican National Convention is expected to include former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge and Sen. Joe Lieberman, the independent Democrat from Connecticut -- two potential McCain running mates who describe themselves as "pro-choice."

Despite the image change Democrats are projecting, Sen. Barack Obama is a strong supporter of abortion rights. In the past few days, he has come under fire from former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a Republican, and other conservatives for opposing a bill in the Illinois legislature that sought to define a fully born baby who survived an abortion as a person.

"If you are a pro-life conservative, this vote is chilling," Huckabee wrote in an e-mail to supporters. "We cannot risk an Obama presidency, and we certainly cannot risk a Democrat president and Democrat Congress working together to pass an anti-life agenda."

Obama has defended his vote by saying that it would have undermined the overarching right to an abortion.

Prominent abortion-rights advocates say they're comfortable with the platform changes -- and the prominent inclusion of Casey -- because they believe they have a strong ally at the top of the ticket.


"Sen. Casey endorsed Sen. Obama and campaigned for him in Pennsylvania, so it is not a surprise that Sen. Obama will include his supporters in the convention," said Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America.

"Sen. Obama is fully pro-choice, and the party's platform reflects, in the strongest terms, his solid commitment to a woman's right to choose," Keenan said. "Our focus is electing Sen. Obama as the next president because his administration will advance pro-choice policies that will protect women's freedom and privacy, unlike John McCain, who we know will continue the failed anti-choice policies of George W. Bush."

Other abortion rights groups also didn't appear concerned by news Wednesday that Casey would speak at the Democratic convention.

"While Sen. Casey's position on a woman's right to choose is at odds with the Democratic Party platform, the Democratic Party's strength is its diversity of voices," Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund told ABC News.com.

Democratic Platform Changes to Abortion Language
The platform change was the result of intricate negotiations during a period of months, involving both abortion supporters and opponents.

The section on abortion starts by saying that the party "strongly and unequivocally supports Roe v. Wade and a woman's right to choose," and says the party opposes "any and all efforts to weaken or undermine that right."

The new language then says: "The Democratic Party also strongly supports access to affordable family planning services and comprehensive age-appropriate sex education which empowers people to make informed choices and live healthy lives.

"We also recognize that such health care and education help reduce the number of unintended pregnancies and thereby also reduce the need for abortions," the platform continues.

"The Democratic Party also strongly supports a woman's decision to have a child by ensuring access to and availability of programs for pre- and postnatal health care, parenting skills, income support, and caring adoption programs.


"The Democratic Party strongly and unequivocally supports Roe v. Wade and a woman's right to choose a safe and legal abortion, regardless of ability to pay, and we oppose any and all efforts to weaken or undermine that right.

"The Democratic Party also strongly supports access to affordable family planning services and comprehensive age-appropriate sex education which empowers people to make informed choices and live healthy lives. We also recognize that such health care and education help reduce the number of unintended pregnancies and thereby also reduce the need for abortions.

"The Democratic Party also strongly supports a woman's decision to have a child by ensuring access to and availability of programs for pre- and postnatal health care, parenting skills, income support, and caring adoption programs."

ABC News' Jennifer Parker and Arnab Datta contributed to this report.

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Postby HappyPuppy » August 14th, 2008, 12:59 pm

Well, it's a bit of a step backward, darn it but maybe a soft sell would be better (for now) on just an unfortunately 'hot' issue.
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Postby Marinepits » August 14th, 2008, 1:57 pm

Loss of freedom begins with the tiniest baby step.
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Postby muse » August 14th, 2008, 2:03 pm

Dont even get me started, Michelle. This hits one of my few buttons! :mad2:

The thought of the government telling what I can and can not do with my own body infuriates me!
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Postby Marinepits » August 14th, 2008, 2:05 pm

This subject is probably the ONLY time I agree with Democrats. And the fact that they're "softening" their stance just to get swing voters REALLY pisses me off. :mad2:
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Postby muse » August 14th, 2008, 2:11 pm

And then you have McCain who is "looking" into a VP who is Pro Choice. Both sides are talking out of BOTH SIDES of their mouths! :crazy2:
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Postby HappyPuppy » August 14th, 2008, 2:16 pm

With some of the 'political issues' lately that STILL are even issues, I find it hard to believe we are actually in the year 2008! :nono:
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Postby Marinepits » August 14th, 2008, 2:21 pm

Well, that's par for the course with all politicians (meaning muse's comment on McCain). :rolleyes2:

I just can't believe they (the Democratic PARTY, not just one or two individuals) are being so non-chalant over the issue! Do they think that the general public is so bloody stupid that we won't notice? I spent my college years escorting young women through picket lines (remember the whole Wichita thing?) just so they could visit pro-choice organizations, and fighting to make sure ALL American women had that option available to them. And now the Dems are like "Oh, don't worry. We're just changing our stance a little bit, but we're still pro-choice." My ass. :mad2:
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Postby SisMorphine » August 14th, 2008, 2:22 pm

Why do we keep going backwards?
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Postby Marinepits » August 14th, 2008, 2:23 pm

I don't know. :shake:
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Postby Marinepits » August 14th, 2008, 2:32 pm

THIS scares me:

http://www.salon.com/opinion/feature/20 ... /abortion/

.....So far the party's strategy in dealing with disaffected Clinton supporters, in particular, involves focusing on women's understandable fears that a John McCain administration would limit abortion rights and even overturn Roe v. Wade, and promising that Democrats will clearly do better.

That's why it's so remarkable that in recent weeks, Democrats, including Sojourners founder Jim Wallis, have suggested that the party may need to take another crack at tempering its strong platform support for abortion rights by making "abortion reduction ... a central Democratic Party plank in this election." In a recent interview with ABC News, Wallis said he planned to talk to his "good friend" Barack Obama about an abortion reduction plank, and said he had discussed the idea with party chairman Howard Dean and had the support of at least one member of the Platform Committee, the Rev. Tony Campolo. "Abortion reduction should be a central Democratic Party plank in this election," Wallis told ABC News. "I'll just say that flat out."

While a Wallis spokesperson quickly backpedaled and said Wallis was "not actively campaigning" for an abortion reduction plank, the idea of a Democratic "third way" on abortion is bound to come up again. This time around, party officials and Democratic candidates will be well advised to tread carefully......



.....we know women are well aware that Democratic policies, as well as Democratic leaders, are far less sexist and far more likely to empower women than the policies and leaders of the GOP. For those reasons, we believe, even the most frustrated Hillary Clinton supporters will come around. But telling women that the Democrats' commitment to abortion rights is what should drive their vote, while simultaneously suggesting, as Wallis and his allies do, that given the choice, having a baby is a more moral choice than abortion, will be understood for what it is: condescending and sexist. It is likely to stoke, not slake, the flames of anger, since women are well aware of the moral dimensions of pregnancy; they were not a novel discovery made circa 2004.....
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Postby demolitionic » August 14th, 2008, 3:22 pm

Constitutional rights? What are those?
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Postby Malli » August 14th, 2008, 3:45 pm

we had a similar situation recently in Canadian politics.

definitely Pro choice here. If not I could potentially have a child.
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Postby BullyLady » August 15th, 2008, 2:14 am

Disgusting, absolutely disgusting. This is why I am registered independant. I can't STAND either of the parties and them talking ou of their asses all the time. Especially on an issue like this! It's MY body and I will do with it AS I PLEASE.
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Postby odnarb » August 17th, 2008, 4:22 pm

I guess it doesn't scare me TOO much, as it sounds to me that they plan on doing more education and giving women access to health care and birth control, as well as promoting and having better/more services aiding in adoption. The stance of supporting Roe Vs Wade is still there, it's just that more has been added. I think that it is a good thing. I can't imagine anybody thinks that there should be MORE abortions. There should be less children conceived, and more of them given to people that are in better positions to care for them.
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Postby cheekymunkee » August 17th, 2008, 4:50 pm

I dont think any one wants more abortions. Just for them to be available should one chose to have one. We already have access to free birth control and family planning. But that doesnt seem to stop the abuse, neglect & abandonment of unwanted children in this country. Even birth control does not stop all unwanted pregnancies. Nothing short of sterilization is 100%. Adoption as it is now is not the answer, if it were we woulndt have so many children in foster care. There are SO many people who WANT these children who just cannot afford to jump through all of the hoops that are placed in their way when they do try to adopt. Just because they don't have x amount of dollars in the bank or a perfect back ground does not mean they would not be perfect homes for these children. In Texas we have places where people can drop off unwanted children ( under a certain age) no questions asked. But hundreds more children are STILL murdered, abandoned & abused than are given up. :nono:
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