DEMOCRATS FOR LIFE
Kristen Day, executive director of Democrats for Life of America, argued the Democratic Party should be the “pro-life” party.

The Democratic Party’s national political agenda should not exclude anti-abortion dialogue, argued the executive director of Democrats for Life of America, an anti-abortion advocacy group, during a Georgetown University Right to Life discussion Nov. 9.

The event, titled “Pro-life Across the Aisle,” featured Kristen Day, DFLA’s executive director, speaking with around 15 students about her organization’s work to integrate the national anti-abortion movement with the mission of the Democratic Party.

The party’s 2016 platform, its most recent, supports “safe and legal” abortion and endorses a plan to end a ban on federal funding for abortion, a stance that NARAL Pro-Choice America, a pro-abortion rights advocacy group, praised as the “best ever for reproductive freedom.” Prominent Democrats including former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) have vocally supported funding for Planned Parenthood, a national provider of reproductive health services, including abortion.

Founded in 1999, DFLA advocates for and supports programs and policies that respect and promote human life from conception to natural death, according to the organization’s mission statement. This mission includes opposition to abortion, capital punishment and euthanasia.

The support for anti-abortion Democrats is dwindling, Day said. The number of Democrats identifying with the anti-abortion movement in government is at its lowest numbers since the 1930s, according to Day.

Day attributed the decreasing numbers to the increasingly polarized nature of national politics, arguing that the Democratic Party is cultivating a culture in which anti-abortion activists are unwelcome.

“The Democratic Party is kicking pro-life members out, encouraging them not to run, or to run on a pro-choice platform,” Day said.

Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez drew the ire of anti-abortion Democrats in April when he released a statement stating that “every candidate who runs as a Democrat” should support the party’s pro-abortion rights stance.

However, Pelosi later said in an interview that “of course” it is possible for Democrats to oppose abortion rights, while Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chair Ben Ray Luján said in July the party would not withhold financial support for anti-abortion candidates in the 2018 elections.

Day said anti-abortion issues are important to the future growth of the Democratic Party.

“Pro-life Democrats’ voice is so important within the party, talking not only about abortion but whole-life issues,” Day said. “Nobody wants to find common ground anymore, but I still think we can do it.”

DFLA must work actively to recruit financial donations to build on its mission, which must include lobbying the Democratic Party to be inclusive of anti-abortion advocacy, Day said.

“I don’t want to give to the Democratic Party,” Day said. “I want to give to pro-life candidates; please direct my money there.”

Day, who now oversees all operations in DFLA’s Washington, D.C. office, said she became interested in politics as a sophomore at Michigan State University when she was selected to serve as a precinct delegate for the Democratic Party.

Day then became the chief of staff for Rep. Jim Barcia (D-Mich.), who opposed abortion. Day has been advocating for anti-abortion policy since then.

Havens Clark (COL ’20), president of Right to Life, said the event aimed to promote a conversation about anti-abortion initiatives and raise awareness about the efforts of Democratic politicians and activists who identify with the anti-abortion movement.

“We are trying to dispel the notion that a lot of people get that Democrats are all pro-choice,” Clark said. “We have members of our organization who are Democrats, so we want to support them with this event and create a dialogue that was more bipartisan.”

Michael DeFelice (COL ’20), who identifies as a Democrat and is a member of Right to Life, said many students at Georgetown do not know that there are groups that support both Democratic and anti-abortion policy.

“[These events] tell people that we exist and that the Democratic Party needs to support candidates that are pro-life in order to start winning,” DeFelice said.

Regardless of how low Democratic anti-abortion support may be, Day said she will continue to advocate for anti-abortion Democratic initiatives.

“I really believe the Democratic Party should be the pro-life party,” Day said. “We need to make bipartisanship cool again.”

Correction: A previous version of this article stated Democrats for Life of America was founded in 2005. It was founded in 1999.

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2 Comments

  1. John Munnis, Jr. says:

    Thank you, Kristen Day!

    I would like to add another reason the Democratic Party should embrace pro-lifers. Donald Trump was elected president because the abortion advocates calling the shots in the Democratic Party went easy on Trump early in the campaign, when he could have been stopped. Please recall that Trump was the only Republican to praise Planned Parenthood during the primary debates. So they went easy on him despite his hateful rhetoric toward immigrants. He also had an atrocious record on disability rights. But the abortion advocates in the Democratic Party were calling the shots. It is appalling that Trump was not most hated and feared Republican. The only Democrats sincerely against Trump were disability community Democrats and sincere peace and justice Democrats. Why did the Democrats make that foolish gamble? Abortion was the reason.

  2. John Munnis, Jr. says:

    A quick addendum to the comment I just submitted. For me (and many pro-life Democrats) the right to life is not about a culture war. And not social issues are the same. I have been supportive of Gays since 1980 or 1981, when I found out a dear friend was gay. I am vocally supportive of Gays in conservative circles in my ultra-conservative town. I was vocally supportive of immigrants years before the Trump candidacy. I was aactive in the fight to get Ohio to adopt Medicaid expansion. (Thank you, Governor Kasich for your courage.) And I am very active in disability rights, advocating for inclusion, accessibility, health care, etc…

    I was born with Spina Bifida back in 1964. The no treatment debate for Spina Bifida lasted into the 1980s. Never forget the Baby Doe cases of the 1980s – Down syndrome and Spina Bifida. Also, in the early 1970s a man named Dr. John Lorber wrote a piece that listed criteria under which Spina Bifida babies should not be treated and saved. This is why I am pro-life. I cringe when abortion advocates used the term “anomaly,” as in “fetal anomaly.”

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