“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. We oppose any and all efforts to weaken or undermine that right.” So reads the 2012 Democratic National Committee platform.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi likes to attack the “the extremism of the Republicans.” But in that plank, the Democrats have shown themselves to be out of touch with not only the American people – 72 percent of whom oppose public funding to pay for abortions, according to a Quinnipiac poll – but also with Democratic voters themselves.
A 2011 Gallup poll found that a minority of Democrats – 38 percent – believe that abortion should be legal under any and all circumstances. That puts the majority of Democrats on the wrong side of what the administration likes to call “the war on women.”
Kristen Day , executive director of Democrats for Life, doesn’t get why her party continues to marginalize her point of view. “This is what the Democratic Party historically has fought for – the vulnerable, the needy and the unborn,” she told me.
Politically, it doesn’t make sense. The party needs anti-abortion Democrats to leverage a majority of the House.
Ironically, there’s one female delegate the Democrats don’t want to hear. Former Rep. Kathy Dahlkemper of Pennsylvania lost her seat after she voted for Obamacare. “I’m pro-life because I believe in the sanctity of life from conception to natural death,” Dahlkemper, at one time a single mother who relied on food stamps, told me.
Dahlkemper doesn’t want to be a Republican. She’s highly critical of the GOP’s proposed cuts in safety-net programs.
So she’s sticking with her party – and getting no r-e-s-p-e-c-t. After she voted for the Affordable Care Act, President Obama signed an executive order to force church-based institutions to pay for contraception in violation of their deeply held beliefs. There was no need for the administration to impose its views on dissenters. It was an intolerant act of raw power.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid complained Tuesday night that there is no dealing with Republicans because they “won’t recognize common ground even when they stand on it.”
But on this issue, for the Democratic Party there is no middle ground. There’s no room for debate. There’s no open exchange of ideas.
There is no room for doubt.
First you have to agree with the party that abortion should be legal under any and all circumstances.
Then, whether you like it or not, you have to pay for it.
Contact Saunders, a columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle, at firstname.lastname@example.org.