Judith Warner looked for the supposedly pro-life-friendly language in the new Democratic Party platform, and stopped at the first sentence. In the New York Times, Warner explains that the new platform actually argues harder for abortion on demand than the earlier Clinton platforms did, and that their outreach to Catholics and evangelicals is built on falsehoods:
A lot of anti-abortion activists — including the leadership of the group Democrats for Life, which has long tried to get their party to soften its stand on reproductive rights – weren’t buying it. “It would be really tragic if some young evangelicals unaware of history of civics would vote for a candidate that will guarantee that we will have abortion on demand for another 30 years,” Gary Bauer, president of American Values, told Bloomberg News.
And they were right. There is nothing new in the Democratic position. The abortion plank’s first sentence, “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,” is, arguably, the most powerful statement in favor of abortion rights that the party has ever made. Some pro-choice activists find it less grating to the ear than the old Clintonian formulation, which promised in the 2004 party platform to make abortion “safe, legal, and rare.”
Proposing to aid women in becoming mothers by “ensuring access to and availability of programs for pre- and post-natal health care, parenting skills, income support, and caring adoption programs,” as the platform does, hardly amounts to a radical departure. Adoption was mentioned in 2004, and Democratic legislation aimed at abortion prevention and reduction — Hillary Clinton’s Prevention First Act and Representatives Rosa DeLauro and Tim Ryan’s Reducing the Need for Abortion Initiative — has long been circulating in Congress. Barack Obama himself has been talking about the dual approach for years.
In other words, like most of Barack Obama’s campaign, the New Politics position on abortion consists of more of the same old stuff. Not only does the Democratic platform insist on abortion, it insists that taxpayers fund it, too. That doesn’t move the party to the right at all; in fact, it makes it even more intransigent on life issues than ever.
Here’s the entire plank:
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 empower 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 post natal health care, parenting skills, income support, and caring adoption programs.
Here is 2004’s edition:
Because we believe in the privacy and equality of women, we stand proudly for a woman’s right to choose, consistent with Roe v. Wade, and regardless of her ability to pay. We stand firmly against Republican efforts to undermine that right. At the same time, we strongly support family planning and adoption incentives. Abortion should be safe, legal, and rare.
Not only do the Democrats reaffirm their support for taxpayer-funded abortions, they also propose more taxpayer-funded programs on top of them. The only difference between the two positions is more government programs.
Yet, as Warner notes, the Democrats have trotted out progressives like Revs. Joel Hunter and Tony Campolo to spin this into some sort of real change that can allow pro-life voters to support Democrats. It’s not even a cosmetic change to their previous, unadulterated support for abortion on demand. The new platform does nothing — nothing — to address the values of life for Catholics and evangelicals. It doesn’t even provide, as Warner suggests, enough change to offer a face-saving cover for supporting Democrats.
The Democrats remain the party of abortion on demand, and the party of abortion at taxpayer expense. No amount of spin from apologists like Campolo or Hunter can whitewash the clear, uncompromising language of the Democratic platform. And no amount of spin or lies can erase the fact that their presidential nominee voted to protect infanticide as a state legislator in Illinois when even his own party opposed it in Congress.