What Does it Really Mean to be Pro-Life?

Our political discourse is nonsensical. The Republican party is at war with itself, with Reganites clashing with Trumpian-populists for the soul of the GOP. In the Midwest, the Democratic platform feels like it was airdropped from Mars, with the laughably out of touch party losing Ohio, Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin in the 2016 presidential election for the first time since 1984. What we need is some sanity — a new path forward for a reasonable political ideology.

What I, and the rest of my fellow whole-life Democrats, propose is a new approach that values the individual from the moment of conception until natural death. If you consider yourself ‘pro-life’ and consistently vote Republican, I understand where you’re coming from. The Democratic platform has been pushed to the farthest extremes by groups like Planned Parenthood and its lobbying-arm NARAL. Consider Hillary Clinton, who went from the moderate stance of permitting abortion in “rare instances, and I mean rare,” during her presidential run in 2008 to advocating continued legalization of partial birth abortion in her 2016 run — a position that shows tepid public support at best. As a pro-life voter, I urge you to think beyond the issue of abortion and how the ideal pro-life candidate would not just be anti-abortion but also in favor of a family-supporting wage, access to healthcare and high-quality education.

We affirm and advocate for the dignity of all Americans in the face of those who would otherwise deny it. Who could be more voiceless in our country then the unborn?

For open-minded Democrats who may have never seriously considered their position on abortion, I urge you to critically evaluate what it truly means to be a Democrat. Our party has a cherished legacy of being the voice for the voiceless in Washington D.C. and Lansing. We affirm and advocate for the dignity of all Americans in the face of those who would otherwise deny it. Who could be more voiceless in our country then the unborn?

I also urge fellow Democrats to do an honest assessment of where we are as a party, specifically the electoral cost of our current purity-driven platform on sexual ethics outside of San Francisco and New York City. Since 2008 we have lost close to 1,000 seats nationwide, and are the least relevant at the federal level we’ve been since 1928. It can be easy for us as Democrats to retreat into the headlines of the New York Times or clips from the latest Jimmy Kimmel monologue to convince us of the superiority of our ideas; but, at times these institutions of refuge save us from having to do brutally honest self-reflection. Why is it that we as Democrats are the party of the vulnerable and individual dignity, until the issue of abortion where we deny the humanity of the unborn? The same can be said of Republicans who espouse ‘individual liberty’ until the issue of abortion, where their tone shifts to a need for government intervention. It is time for some ideological consistency. It is time for whole-life Democrats and way past time for the Democratic Party to allow pro-life Democrats to vote their conscience on the issue of abortion.

There is precedent for a Democratic resurgence built off the contributions of pro-life Democrats. In 2006, Democrats captured Congress on a wave of pragmatic, pro-life Democrats who were later ousted because of abortion-lobby extremists who pushed the Affordable Care Act way to the left of what the public was ready to accept. If this cause speaks to you, and you’re tired of the partisan gridlock I implore you to get involved. Whole-life Democrats are a rapidly organizing constituency, and the group Democrats for Life of America gives us a voice.

Peter Geppert is a guest author for the Review representing Democrats for Life of Michigan, a state chapter for Democrats for Life of America. Democrats for Life of America is the organized pro-life voice and wing of the Democratic Party. 

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  • David Wolf

    I’m with you on most of these points. Currently I’m politically homeless, formerly Republican and now certainly open to voting Democrat more frequently. Most of your points on the weaknesses of the two parties on the issue of life are ones I agree with. But the idea that Republicans “espouse ‘individual liberty’ until the issue of abortion, where their tone shifts to a need for government intervention” seems to miss the point. Republicans (traditionally) simply apply the same standard to pre-born life as they do to all the rest, which is relatively limited government, with laws against murder. Again, I agree that they have weaknesses on a lot of areas concerning the protection of life, and I’m more sympathetic than I used to be to the neoliberal ideas of government interventionism, and I think the Republican “limited government” idea has long been applied inconsistently. But I don’t think abortion is one of those inconsistencies.