According to one American political website, the “abortion debate is over inside the Democratic party.” Just when it seems that Donald Trump may be heading towards a rebuff in the midterm elections, according to those picking over the results of the Pennsylvania special election, analysis of the same contest leads to the conclusion that the Democrats are now the party of so-called abortion rights, and thus the party that does not recognise the rights of the unborn. As the McClatchy website says of the victorious Democrat in Pennsylvania:
Lamb is not an outlier, not anymore. Nine months from Election Day, political veterans eyeing the House landscape struggle to even identify a single Democratic House hopeful — of the hundreds running — who openly opposes abortion rights.
This is surely deeply significant. There used to be pro-life Democrats, but not anymore it seems. To be a pro-life Democratic candidate is now almost impossible because, among other reasons, none of the big donors will fund such a candidate.
So, what does this mean for Catholics, by which of course I mean proper Catholics, Catholics who believe in what the Church teaches about the universal and absolute right to life?
First of all, it means that voting Democrat is now harder than ever. Watching the Presidential campaign from this side of the Atlantic, I was amazed by the resolutely pro-abortion stance of Hillary Clinton. I do not mean that her belief in liberal abortion laws shocked me – far from it, for that was no secret. What shocked and dismayed me was the way that at no time in the campaign did Mrs Clinton ever reach out to pro-lifers or do anything to conciliate them.
There was a time when Democrats did try to acknowledge the concerns of the pro-life movement: we had Bill Clinton talking about abortion being “safe, legal and rare”, which implied that it was not a good thing. And on one occasion, back in 2005, Mrs Clinton herself said that abortion represented a “tragic choice” for many women, and seemed to be seeking some sort of centre ground on the matter. But that seems like a long time ago now. Since then Mrs Clinton and the Democratic party have doubled down on their support for abortion. Nancy Pelosi does not just defend abortion in general, she defends all abortions, it seems, even those which seem the hardest to defend. Her use of the phrase “sacred ground” reveals her support of abortion to be doctrinaire and ideologically driven.
It strikes me that if Mrs Clinton and the Democrats in general had been just a little less hard line, then perhaps a few more people would have voted for them, and perhaps Mr Trump would not have made it into the White House. That is, of course, just a thought. After all, aren’t elections traditionally won by fighting over the middle ground? And it also strikes me that a lot of people voted for Trump, not because they liked him more, but because they disliked him less, and because they knew that Trump would reverse the packing of the Supreme Court with advocates of abortion. Indeed, the fact that the Democrats would never ever appoint anyone to the Supreme Court who was against abortion meant that Trump was able to make the opposite promise which represents something of a Holy Grail for all of us who are pro-life.
The current Democrat position is distressing, and I hope it will change. We need pro-life Democrats, because we need elections in which we can at least in theory vote for either party. And the Democratic party needs to be more democratic and less monolithic. It needs to recognise that some of us in conscience will never accept abortion, and that conscience has rights. As do unborn children. Until it does that, the Democrats present us with a political wasteland that has been laid bare by an ideology that has destroyed all of which it disapproves. If the abortion debate is truly over in the Democratic party, that does not bode well for the voters, or the party, or the health of political America.
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