A Pro-Life Democrat Explains Why She Stays
All other issues pale in comparison to the right to live.
If consistency matters then Democrats should be prolife and Republicans pro-abortion, according to Kristen Day, executive director for Democrats for Life of America, (DFLA), a group supporting Democratic candidates opposing abortion. She spoke at the University of Mary Sept. 12, explaining why she has been working for 15 years to promote a cause her party is pitted against. I attended because I wondered how anyone against abortion could be a Democrat since it was that very issue that drove me away from them years ago.
Pro-Regulation Except Abortion
Given the Democratic party’s value of caring for the vulnerable, being prolife is consistent with democratic values, according to Day. Yet, her party of choice grows increasingly hostile to pro-life causes. “Democrats have it wrong,” she said. “Republicans are the ones that tend to argue for individual rights, but they protect life. I’m doing my best to bring my party to more consistent politics.”
Day pointed out that Democrats are the party of regulations except when it comes to abortion. She used the example of Dr. Kermit Gosnell’s Philadelphia’s abortion facility dubbed the “House of Horrors” due to the discovery of extreme violations and appalling conditions. He was sentenced in 2011 to life in prison after his conviction of multiple felonies including the death of a patient and of murdering three infants born alive during abortion procedures, yet Democrats looked the other way.
“The state didn’t want to interfere with women’s right to abortion, so they never inspected the clinic in 10 years,” Day said. “Democrats love regulations, but they always fight regulating abortion. They don’t support poor women wanting to have their babies and don’t report on horrors harmful to women such as unregulated abortion clinics. The clinic showed absolute victimization of women. When it comes to abortion, it’s mostly poor women who are victimized.”
Since the Democratic party champions the poor, Day said that instead of encouraging poor women to have abortions, they should lift them up and support alternatives. “I’ve spoken to a lot of post abortive women and see they feel pain and guilt many years later,” she said. “We can and should do more to support women with unplanned pregnancies.”
Day praised the work of pregnancy centers. “The work they do is amazing, but Democrats are against them,” she said. “Women get all kinds of help like job training, housing, clothing, diapers and cribs. The Democrats are so focused on pushing abortion, they don’t see the good that these clinics do.”
Before Roe. v. Wade legalized abortion, many leading anti-abortion groups were Democrat. The party eventually veered so far left, however, that they now support abortion throughout the entire 40 weeks of pregnancy despite babies being viable outside the womb at 22 weeks.
Day brought up the Senate’s failure to pass the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act this past January, which would have banned abortions after 20 weeks. Just three House Democrats voted for the bill to protect unborn babies capable of feeling pain from abortion. She explained that is an extreme position since even in Europe, abortion is not allowed after 13 weeks.
As midterm elections near, there are no prolife Democrats running for federal office in the 91 districts the party hopes to flip from red to blue. Since pro-life issues tend to be strong in those states, the Democratic obsession with abortion will not do them any favors there. Day said regardless of their intractable stance on abortion, she will continue to advocate against it in hopes of one day bringing life back to the party. “I’m seeing my party die,” Day said in closing. “I want to see it brought it back to life.”
In an interview following her talk, I asked Day why the Democratic party has become so radical? “If you look at staff on the DNC, [Democratic National Committee] there are a lot of former employees from the abortion industry,” she said. They have taken over. To counter this, Day said more prolife people need to speak up. Although she could not point to pro-life accomplishments of the party, Day said that she has made inroads in people’s thinking in private conversations.
Day speaks my language on life, but she does it from a corner of politics I’ve vacated. I truly hope she succeeds in bringing pro-life representation back to the Democratic party. As the party for the vulnerable, there are none so vulnerable as unborn babies inside their mother’s wombs. So, the Democratic party really should be compatible with life issues. But for now, as a Catholic, I cannot vote for candidates who promote abortion. All other issues pale in comparison to the right to live.
Day was joined onstage with two other pro-lifers: Mark Haugen, the Democratic North Dakota chairman of District 32, and Libertarian, Rob Port, WDAY radio host, newspaper columnist, and editor of the Say Anything Blog. Following Day’s talk, they shared their prolife perspectives, then everyone answered questions from the audience.
The event was an opportunity to listen to ideas apart from partisan politics, according to organizer Nicholas Waddell, President of Marauders on Politics. “To really have a pro-life America, we need pro-life representation in both parties,” he said. Waddell credited excellent professors and a strong Catholic-Benedictine formation with providing a firm basis from which students measure ideas against the teaching of the Magisterium.
Port and Haugen then shared their prolife values. During the Q & A session that followed, Port expressed that preventing pregnancies is ultimately the best way to prevent abortions. When he advocated for contraception, Day admitted that some were abortifacients and that many of the women who show up for abortions were using contraception.
Students in the audience responded. “Wouldn’t it be better to encourage abstinence and wait for marriage?” a student asked.
Port said abstinence education doesn’t work and again advocated for contraception. Another student passionately challenged his perception based on our dignity as children of God and the sanctity of marriage.
An enthusiastic applause broke out. After the applause died down, Day smiled and said that perhaps she should send her students to UMary. The Q & A then continued a little longer, although it was requested they move onto a different topic.