On Jan. 27, thousands of young Americans — including nearly 200 from the Diocese of Green Bay — will fill the grounds of the Washington Monument in Washington, D.C., holding signs and chanting slogans that proclaim a pro-life message. From the iconic monument they will begin a 2.1-mile procession along Constitution Avenue to the U.S. Supreme Court building in what is known as the March for Life.
Billed as the largest pro-life event in the world, the March for Life marks the Jan. 22, 1973, Supreme Court decisions in Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton that legalized abortion. The first march took place on Jan. 22, 1974.
This year’s March for Life comes one week after the inauguration of President Donald Trump, whose election last November was made possible by Americans who oppose legalized abortion. His opponent, Hillary Clinton, campaigned for continued support of abortion rights and the 2016 Democratic platform even called for a repeal of the Hyde Amendment, a legislative provision barring the use of certain federal funds to pay for most abortions.
Election observers have offered a variety of reasons why Trump defeated Clinton, but it is hard to deny that one issue, the right to life of unborn children, helped lead not only to Clinton’s defeat, but to the overall rout of Democrats in Congress. Over the next four years, as leaders of the Democratic National Committee do some soul-searching while trying to regroup for the 2020 presidential elections, they must reconsider their extreme stand on abortion rights and reopen their doors to pro-life Democrats.
All the DNC needs to do is review the facts.
While public opinion on abortion rights has held steady for two decades (about 56 percent of U.S. adults say it should remain legal, according to the Pew Research Center), 49 percent say abortion is morally wrong. In addition, the actual number of abortions in the U.S. has dropped significantly.
The National Right to Life reported that abortions in the U.S. peaked at 1.6 million in 1990 and fell to around 1.06 million in 2011. A November 2015 report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed a drop of 4.2 percent, or 31,000 fewer abortions, in 2012.
Finally, a 2009 Gallup poll found that 23 percent of young adults, 18 to 29, believe abortion should be “illegal in all circumstances,” a jump from 14 percent in the 1975. “This is a sharp change from the late 1970s, when seniors (65 and older) were substantially more likely than younger age groups to want abortion to be illegal,” stated the Gallup report, “Generational Differences on Abortion Narrow.”
The DNC’s hard line on abortion rights, which increasingly contradicts public opinion, forces candidates for political office to either fall in line with a position that they morally oppose or to switch political parties. This dilemma was the subject of a recent column titled “In Order to Compete Nationally, Democrats Must Embrace Pro-Life Candidates,” by author Stephen Markley in the online arts and lifestyle magazine, Paste.
Markley, who is pro-abortion, concludes his column with a challenge.
“If the Democratic Party wants to be a big tent, it has to be big enough to support and elect pro-life candidates. That is political reality,” he writes.
During the 1992 Democratic National Convention, Gov. Robert P. Casey of Pennsylvania, a Catholic and Democrat, was not allowed to address the convention delegates. The reason: He wanted to defend the dignity of the unborn and voice opposition to his party’s stance on abortion. Since that time, anti-abortion Democrats have become anathema to the party.
It is time for the DNC to welcome candidates with a consistent ethic of life platform. (Just as it is for the GOP on other life issues.) It could be a boon to election results and it might also bring political diversity to future March for Life processions.