WASHINGTON — For the first time in years, anti-abortion Democrats have been given a voice in the party’s national platform, says Rep. Lincoln Davis, D-Tenn.
Though the Democratic Party still overwhelmingly supports abortion rights, the platform now includes language that emphasizes preventing unwanted pregnancies and mentions adoption as an option, the result of a push by Democrats for Life, an abortion-opponent group.
“We were able to get something on the platform that deals with ways to reduce abortions, rather than just having the total support for what they call a woman’s right to choose,” Rep. Davis said.
During the Democratic National Convention, which ended Thursday night in Denver, Democrats for Life inducted Rep. Davis into its Hall of Fame for his anti-abortion efforts.
Rep. Davis has introduced the Pregnant Women Support Act, which would boost health care coverage for poor pregnant women and promote programs to encourage women with unplanned pregnancies to carry them to full term.
“If better adoption procedures were put in place, maybe there would be no need for abortion,” Rep. Davis said.
Democrats for Life also held a town hall meeting featuring other anti-abortion lawmakers, including Rep. Heath Shuler, D-N.C., and Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., whose father, former Pennsylvania Gov. Robert Casey, was refused a speaking slot at the 1992 convention because of his anti-abortion stance.
Sen. Casey spoke at the convention on Tuesday, saying that while he and Sen. Obama disagree on abortion, “the fact that I’m speaking here tonight is a testament to Barack’s ability to show respect for the views of people who may disagree with him.”
Sen. Obama has been given a perfect 100 rating by the pro-choice Planned Parenthood Action Fund, while Republican nominee John McCain received a zero rating.
Kristen Day, president of Democrats for Life, said recent wins by anti-abortion Democrats in congressional races point to the anti-abortion faction’s growing clout within the party.
“We picked up six pro-life Democrats in the 2006 elections and two more this past May in special elections,” Ms. Day said. “Abortion is not a litmus test anymore for Democrats. All those issues that Democrats hold dearly, like providing a minimum wage to help parents support their families, these are life issues and are all important to preventing abortion.”
Among the recently elected anti-abortion Democrats are Sen. Casey and Rep. Shuler, who were elected in 2006, and Rep. Don Cazayoux, D-La., elected in a special election this past May.
Rep. Davis, a potential gubernatorial candidate in 2010, is a conservative Democrat who has made some waves in party circles for declining to endorse Sen. Obama for president. Hillary Clinton won the primary in his Middle Tennessee district by a significant margin.
Asked about the presidential race, he demurred, saying all questions about the election should be addressed to the Obama campaign.
“I’m not a spokesman for any candidate but myself,” he said.