Hello, DNC: You Can Be Pro-Choice and Pro-Faith

Marjorie Signer

The Democratic ticket may be pro-choice, but at the Convention, there's more room for pro-life posturing than speeches honoring women's lives and the difficult decisions they must make.

Here in Denver at the Democratic National Convention, the two most
important words should be "Supreme Court."

As a pro-choice Democrat,
the fact that at least one and maybe two justices will be appointed in
the next four years is stamped on my mind. The Reverend Carlton Veazey
of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (full disclosure:
I’m in Denver with RCRC and Rev. Veazey is my boss) made that clear at
an RCRC event Monday at the convention: with four justices ready to
strike down Roe v. Wade, we must have a pro-choice president to safeguard reproductive rights.

It
seems to me that some Democrats who are still wavering on Obama (more
full disclosure — I went to Iowa and Ohio with National Organization
for Women volunteers to work for Hillary Clinton’s election and
continue to admire her greatly) are not acknowledging the full extent
of the threat to the Court if John McCain wins. There are also
questions about whether Joe Biden stands on choice. Feminist Majority
president Ellie Smeal left no doubts in her fiery speech Monday at the
jam-packed women’s "Equali-tea" that the Democrats have "the strongest
platform for women’s rights in history," citing their support for
ratifying CEDAW and the ERA and commitment to oppose all efforts to
undermine reproductive rights and Roe v. Wade. "Barack Obama
has been there with us time and time again," she said. "Don’t believe
rumors about Biden," she continued, reminding the crowd that he voted
against the confirmation of Clarence Thomas.

Unfortunately,
there are small signs that the Democratic Party may be weakening on the
choice issue. One of the four main speakers at the opening event of the
convention on Sunday – a multi-faith celebration of religious diversity
in the Democratic Party – delivered a pro-life speech that, frankly,
shocked me. I was expecting inspiration and hope, not remarks against
abortion. The speaker – Bishop Charles Blake of the Church of God in
Christ (COGIC), which has more than six million members – said that
"millions" of Democrats feel the Democrats’ pro-choice position
"contradicts with our faith." He called on his compatriots to "resist
now" and said, "We know our party will understand our pain." And he
also reassured the party that "despite our disagreement on this issue,"
pro-life Democrats will stay in the party because of shared values such
as concern for children and the poor.

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There
was no pro-choice speech at the faith event, not even a mention of
honoring women’s lives and the difficult decisions they must make. A
respected theologian at the event, who told me he is advising Obama’s
campaign on how to appeal to religious voters on the choice issue, said
that abortion is emerging as a key issue in the campaign and Democrats
are worried they will lose some religious voters because of their
position. Apparently, they think they need to talk about "abortion
reduction." I asked him to consider talking about "reducing the need
for abortion" – not the numbers of abortions – and to stress we need
money for comprehensive sexuality education in our schools and more
money for family planning programs.

In
my opinion – as a Democrat and a person who strongly believes that
faith shapes our views on abortion – the Democrats should deliver a
strong pro-choice pro-faith message that shows they understand that
reproductive decisions involve people’s deepest beliefs about the
meaning of life and hopes for their families. Democrats should be the
party that is pro-faith, pro-family and pro-choice. I call on readers
of this post to join me in asking the Democrats to be strong on choice.

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