Pro-Life Democrats?

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Matt Archbold at Creative Minority Report explains to us why the concept of “pro-life” Democrats is almost entirely a sick joke:

Here’s what it seems happened. When the bill limiting abortions to the first 20 weeks hit the Arkansas legislature last week, pro-life Republicans and pro-life Democrats joined together to vote for it. Nice, right? But it seems now that the only reason the pro-life Dems voted for it was because they knew that the “pro-life” Democratic Governor Mike Beebe was going to veto it.

Because what happened now was that moments after the veto was announced the pro-life Republicans sought to mount a vote to override the veto. You might remember that last week the bill got 80 votes. But yesterday when the vote hit the House floor, all but two of the “pro-life” Dems walked out so they didn’t have to cast a vote. That’s right. They left empty chairs in their place. These legislators are profiles in cowardice.

Their empty chairs are the perfect symbol of pro-life Democrats. When push comes to shove, the overwhelming majority of pro-life Dems are Dems first and foremost.

Two Democrats showed an enormous amount of courage by voting for the override – John Catlett and Jody Dickinson. They deserve our praise and admiration for standing up to their government and the party for the unborn.

Now, the bill moves on to the Senate where I’m certain pro-life Dems will be fleeing out the windows of the legislature to avoid a vote. Pray that some stand up for the unborn.

I am pleased to note that the Arkansas Senate, voting 19-14 along party lines,  overrode the Democrat Governor’s veto and the abortion ban is now the law in Arkansas thanks to the Republicans in the Arkansas legislature.  Opponents of abortion have no home in the Democrat party.  The Democrats are as pro-abortion now as they were pro-slavery prior to the Civil War.  To people who call themselves pro-life Democrats I echo these words of Lincoln in 1860:

What we want, and all we want, is to have with us the men who think slavery wrong. But those who say they hate slavery, and are opposed to it, but yet act with the Democratic party — where are they? Let us apply a few tests. You say that you think slavery is wrong, but you denounce all attempts to restrain it. Is there anything else that you think wrong, that you are not willing to deal with as a wrong? Why are you so careful, so tender of this one wrong and no other? [Laughter.] You will not let us do a single thing as if it was wrong;
there is no place where you will allow it to be even called wrong! We must not call it wrong in the Free States, because it is not there, and we must not call it wrong in the Slave States because it is there; we must not call it wrong in politics because that is bringing morality into politics, and we must not call
it wrong in the pulpit because that is bringing politics into religion; we must not bring it into the Tract Society or the other societies, because those are such unsuitable places, and there is no single place, according to you, where this wrong thing can properly be called wrong!




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Thought For the Day


I am truly surprised by this:   The Arizona Democratic Party is planning to hold a vote this week to determine whether

Saint of the Day Quote: Saint Joseph of Cupertino

  I like not scruples nor melancholy: let your intention be right and fear not. Saint Joseph of Cupertino     There


  1. “Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

  2. Allegedly “pro-life” Democrats, just as with “Catholic” Democrats, are ALWAYS Democrats first and foremost. As I noted the other day, they will get FAR more exercised over someone calling their party the “Democrat Party” than they will ever get over the fact that the Democrat Party is head over heels in love with abortion on demand.

  3. Contemplating Beebe…

    Remember Buddy Roemer of Louisiana, Ivy League Democrat turned Republican? He was all for restrictions on abortion, it was just that the legislature could never seem to pass a bill with just the right provisions and more in sorrow than in anger he had to veto them all.

    Justice was done when he ran for re-election. He placed third to rogue Edwin Edwards and David Duke in a nonpartisan primary. Edwards won the run-off big with a great slogan, “Vote for the Crook. It’s Important”.

  4. What exactly is being argued here? That “pro-life” Democrats aren’t actually pro-life…or are politically incapable of being pro-life? Some clarification please.

    Also, the Lincoln quote doesn’t really apply here…it seems like it’d be a better indictment of people who call themselves “personally pro-life, but…”, not Democrats who actually do consistently vote pro-life.

  5. “What exactly is being argued here? That “pro-life” Democrats aren’t actually pro-life”

    Bingo. With pro-lifers like the vast majority of “pro-life” elected Democrats, who needs pro-aborts?

    “Also, the Lincoln quote doesn’t really apply here”

    Rubbish. Lincoln was speaking about Democrats who claimed to oppose slavery and then refused to take any action against it which is precisely what happened in Arkansas.

  6. What exactly is being argued here? That “pro-life” Democrats aren’t actually pro-life…or are politically incapable of being pro-life? Some clarification please. –

    I think if there is not a critical mass in a legislative body (and there may still be in the Pennsylvania and Rhode Island legislatures), nearly all of them cave push comes to shove. William Lipinski was the odd exception in Congress.

    With regard to opinion mongers, I suspect if you did a content analysis of Commonweal and other venues you would discover telltale signs that the contributors would prefer to be discussing anything but the non-negotiable issues and are addled by contempt for those vulgar enough to emphasize them. I do not think that described Peter Steinfels, ca. 1983, but liberal Catholics have lost a lot of juice since then.

  7. Some of them do not bob and weave, though. Before he was silenced by a head injury at the end of 2008, Andrew Greeley had a great deal to say about topical political questions (and was shoveling cash into B.O.’s presidential campaign per the Federal Election Commission).

  8. JDP, pardon me if I’m not comfortable with blanket statements that actually fly in the face of real-life instances. I agree that the Dems are by and large sickly beholden to abortion, but there are definitely instances of principled pro-lifers who are also democrats. Rather than vilify them, I say we encourage them and hope they can impart some sort of internal reform in their own party. Doubtful, I know, but better than berating them as “not really pro-life,” as if you’d rather have an actual non pro-life candidate running for office.

  9. “Rubbish. Lincoln was speaking about Democrats who claimed to oppose slavery and then refused to take any action against it which is precisely what happened in Arkansas.”

    I agree that it does seem to resonate with this particular case in Arkansas, but not Democrat pro-lifers across the board.

  10. pardon me if I’m not comfortable with blanket statements that actually fly in the face of real-life instances.

    In a country with 308 million people in it, there are always examples of anything. Also, most people do not do a whole lot of pondering of matters religious or political and do not feel the need to harmonize what appears rather discordant.

    I think there was a self-identified Democrat (and aspirant office holder) who used to post here, but he was unusual. The Vox Nova crew used to chime in here more often, and a couple of them seemed more or less sincere though one of the two was given to evasions now and again. It would be better if certain ends could be pursued through either party, and they could in 1970, but we have not lived in that world in a while.

    Robert Casey was born in 1932, William Lipinski in 1936, David Carlin in 1938, John La Falce in 1939. See a pattern?

  11. apparatus i mean.

    you seem very willing to keep these people the benefit of the doubt, when if the GOP does something symbolically/for political purposes exclusively i’m sure you’d be all over that

  12. I commend authentically pro-life Democrats because there is an immense amount of pressure on them to conform to their national party’s whims. In this way, one can be fairly certain that Democrats who vote consistently pro-life do so out of principle and personal conviction (I don’t think abortion is generally much of a constituent-salient issue, at least in most state-wide elections). On the other hand, I think it’s fairly certain that some (SOME) Republicans pay lip-service to the pro-life cause for political reasons (curry party favor), rather than personal beliefs.

    Donald’s right to call into question the actions of the Arkansas state reps, but I don’t understand why we would want to attack pro-life Democrats in general. I would much rather have two pro-life options on the ballot.

  13. “but I don’t understand why we would want to attack pro-life Democrats in general”

    They have a history of being lukewarm at best and backstabbing cowards at worst. All too often “pro-life Democrat” simply means “not-rabidly-pro-abortion-Democrat.” The bar isn’t set very high.

  14. It may be that we even need to pull back from too close an association with the Republican party. The fact is that their bar isn’t set very high these days either. I don’t think either party aims at Christian-informed decisions. But we exhalt the party that happens to temporarily share a couple of our positions.

  15. Couldn’t agree more Jon. Unfortunately, third party politics are essentially impossible in the American system for structural reasons. I think the reality is that we have to be pragmatic. Just as we are called to be in but not of this world, I think we should also be in a party (essentially the only way to get anything done politically) but not of them (always true to comprehensive Catholicism, and hopefully shaping the parties we belong to). This is why I would encourage us to support authentically pro-life Democrats, especially Catholic ones. They’re a dying breed, for sure, but there’s a reason for that, and I’d say it has a lot to do with the partisan tribalism of too many American Catholics. Honestly, there is nothing more paradoxical and challenging than being a politically-engaged and impactful American Catholic.

  16. Well, JL, I think your’re right. We must avoid complete identification with the parties and the political tribalism that plagues the country now.

    As for myself, I’m too catholic to be Catholic. So for me, the most comprehensive way is to read scripture in light of tradition and reason, recognizing scripture as my final authority. I believe in drawing on all traditions with a lower-case t for the best they have to offer.

  17. given that there is exactly 0% chance of appointing anti-“Roe” justices under a Democratic administration/Democratic Senate (and despite justifiable concerns about how serious some in the GOP are, they have appointed such justices, albeit not with a 100% success rate) someone claiming they’re pro-life and voting Dem nationally doesn’t make a ton of sense unless the issue isn’t particularly high-priority for them. the party made its choice on this a long time ago, the “tribalism” is just a function of how charged issues like this are.

  18. i said national cuz i assume there may still exist certain states with Dem reps who actually are more conservative on this than the national party. even then though, when you notice a pattern like this…fool me once etc.

  19. Look, I’m not in love with the GOP myself. The McCain-Graham wing of the Senate is repugnant and loathsome to me, with its interventionism abroad and disregard for civil liberties at home. The RNC is also staffed by some of the most politically incompetent fools I have ever encountered in all the political history I have ever read.

    But the party has actually been solid on life issues. About as much as could be done, short of repealing Roe, was done under G.W. Bush. The party had a good pro-life track record during those years. We can inveigh that more wasn’t done, but we do have a democratic-republic that is controlled by a two-party system. There are limits to what either party can do.

    There’s simply no comparing the GOP and the Dems on this issue.

  20. Pardon my ignorance, but who ARE these “pro-life Democrats”? Which of them voted against Obama Care?

  21. McCain-Graham wing of the Senate is repugnant and loathsome to me, with its interventionism abroad and disregard for civil liberties at home.

    You need to dial it back.

    The RNC is also staffed by some of the most politically incompetent fools I have ever encountered in all the political history I have ever read.

    A number of years ago, Grover Norquist was asked why Gray Davis, an uninspiring old hack, had managed to get himself the Democratic nomination for Governor of California over a demonstrably capable businessman who had financed an extensive advertising campaign. His response was banal but worth considering, “politics is harder than it looks”. There are people in this world (Daniel Larison comes to mind) who are quite verbose and insistent in telling politicians how to do their jobs (while never themselves having been anywhere near the matrix in which these politicians work). Politicians make bad policy all the time, and often for indefensible reasons, but even well-intentioned are invariably maneuvering in a madcap environment.

  22. liberal Catholics – pro-life democrats- libertarian Catholics ? ? ?

    Pro life democrats belong to a party whose officlal party stance is anti life.
    The cognitive dissonance is deafening

  23. All right I shouldn’t have thrown libertarian Catholics in there. It veers off the course of this thread… and it depends how libertarian they are. But you get the picture.

  24. Names, please – pro-life democrats????? And shame on the bishops who are too cowardly to publicly ex-communicate so-called Catholics legislators who vote for abortion “rights”, and bills that finance Planned Parenthood, and abortion abroad.

  25. Even if the pro-life democrats are truly pro-lifers with a steel spine, they are the exception, not the rule. The Democrat party is the party of death. Look at their positions: pro-abortion, pro-infanticide, pro-suicide, pro-euthanasia, pro-narcotics, pro-homosexual unions (death of souls) and on and on.

    You can criticize the Democrats on these issues and not be rah-rah Republican. The GOP has its own score card. While not perfect, it is light years better than the Dems.

  26. “All right I shouldn’t have thrown libertarian Catholics in there.”

    I don’t even know that many self-identified libertarian Catholics. What I do know is that our high-profile representatives – Tom Woods, Judge Andrew Napolitano, and Jeffery Tucker, to name three that come to mind – are all traditional pro-life Catholics. You can add me to that list if you like.

  27. “Names, please — pro-life democrats???”

    Congressman William Lipinski of IL-3 voted against Obamacare in its final form and specifically cited abortion as his reason for doing so. I believe he was the only Catholic Democrat in Congress to do so. Last I heard he was being considered to replace Doug Kmiec as ambassdor to the Vatican (probably a convienient way of “kicking him upstairs” and filling his seat with a more pliable pro-abort, but we shall see).

  28. Oops, Jay, I really messed that one up. First of all the guy in question is DANIEL Lipinski — William Lipinski is his father who also held the same seat in Congress — and he is in line to replace Miguel Diaz, not Kmiec. (I knew Kmiec was ambassador to some really tiny almost 100% Catholic country over in the Mediterranean, though) 🙂

  29. Pro-Life is not simply limited to opposition to abortion. Of course, that is a primary stance. But the Church supports Life from “conception to natural death.” Where are pro-life conservatives in ensuring that the poor and sick have access to life-saving medicine and treatment?

    Where are the pro-life conservatives protecting the Earth (aka, God’s Creation) from wanton ecological destruction? How about when corporations blow off the tops of mountains and pollute streams/rivers with toxic sludge? Human life in those areas become threatened, not enhanced. Pollution is not pro-life.

    Site well worth a read:

    Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha Conservation Center

    Long before today’s environmental movement,
    the Bible and Tradition of the Catholic Church taught us to be
    stewards of God’s creation with love and wisdom.

  30. But the Church supports Life from “conception to natural death.” Where are pro-life conservatives in ensuring that the poor and sick have access to life-saving medicine and treatment?

    All right Ben, what precisely are you doing? Have you started a small business and provided jobs to anyone so that they earn a decent living and have access to health insurance? Have you supported politicians who promote policies aimed at expanding the entrepreneurial class, or do you instead vote for politicians who make lofty claims about providing more welfare benefits? There is a mistaken assumption on the part of left-wing Catholics that social justice is an impersonal government entity handing out taxpayer dollars. THAT isn’t a Catholic position, and I’m tired of people such as yourselves claiming the high moral ground, because the policies people like you support are precisely the policies that keep people beholden to the state, and mired in poverty. Just feeling bad about the poor isn’t actually demonstrating a truly Catholic ethic. No wonder your state is a laughing stock.

    Pollution is not pro-life.

    Mindless sloganeering is not informative.

  31. Paul,

    Thanks for saving me the time of responding to Ben (and doing it better than I would have.)

  32. “The poor will always be with you.” In St. John’s Gospel Judas complained that the expensive perfume the woman used to anoint Jesus could have been sold and the money used to help the poor. The quote was Jesus’ response to the complant.

    In addition to being pro-life (anti-death penalty, anti-waterboarding, for aerial drone assassination), democrats are “all-in” with the preferential option for the poor.

    In fact, democrats are so strongly preferential for the poor, Federal policies, programs, regulations, and taxes daily are adding thousands to the poverty-stricken category. Since 2009, 75 Americans went on food stamps for each new job created.

    And, their cure for global warming/save Erda: higher fuel prices, higher food prices, more desperately poor people.

  33. “Have you supported politicians who promote policies aimed at expanding the entrepreneurial class, or do you instead vote for politicians who make lofty claims about providing more welfare benefits?”

    Some politicians who claim to be doing the former have no qualms about “providing more welfare benefits” of a sort to big businesses in the form of tax breaks and other targeted economic incentives. While these incentives may be well intentioned to “save jobs”, when it gets to the point that large businesses routinely demand these concessions to the tune of millions and threaten to close or move when they don’t get them, then I would say it becomes a “preferential option for the rich, powerful, and well connected” that leaves the small or medium-size business, which doesn’t have the clout to lobby for these tax breaks, holding the bag. If you really want to expand the entrepreneurial class, I suggest lower taxes or other incentives for EVERYONE, not just big business.

  34. “Where are the pro-life conservatives protecting the Earth (aka, God’s Creation) from wanton ecological destruction?”

    If far-left economic and social policy were the key to environmental preservation, China and the former Soviet bloc nations would be, or have been, among the cleanest places on Earth. Instead, they are riddled with pollution that dwarfs even the bad old days of the Cuyahoga River catching fire.

  35. when people shift the pro-life topic to a broad definition, what they’re usually saying is they aren’t actually pro-life.

    i like to define things technically, and “pro-life” _does not_ refer to anything outside of abortion obviously. that’s what the term’s used for. these sorts of obfuscations are like when libertarians try to turn “small government” against conservatives and argue for their insane minarchist definition of society. now we could talk about what the Catholic position is/should be on other things but that’s a different topic.

  36. “Donnelly served 6 years in the House before his election to the Senate. He has a pretty solid pro-life track record:”

    Actually he pounded Joe Mansour for thinking that it is terrible to kill a child who is luckless enough to be conceived in rape.

    “I think rape is a heinous and violent crime in every instance,” said Donnelly. “The God I believe in and the God I know most Hoosiers believe in, does not intend for rape to happen—ever. What Mr. Mourdock said is shocking, and it is stunning that he would be so disrespectful to survivors of rape.”

    We will see how he votes in the Senate.

  37. Actually, Donald, what he did is what any other politician would do: capitalize when a political opponent makes a (well-intentioned, but) boneheaded gaffe.

    Donnelly’s exceptions for rape, incest, and life of the mother are disappointing, but he’s no different in that regard than the majority of Republicans.

    And I have no idea who Joe Mansour is.

  38. JL, when someone’s first response to a conversation on this subject is to talk about how pollution, the death penalty, etc. etc. mean select pro-lifers aren’t “really pro-life,” that’s a sign to me that don’t view abortion as a particularly high-priority issue. sure that’s not true for everyone but it’s a common tactic for people who don’t agree with pro-lifers in the first place. furthermore questions of just war, putting criminals to death, enviro. policy, and so on are obviously of a different nature than abortion

    maybe framing things as anti-abortion vs. pro-abortion would make this easier so people don’t play semantic games.

  39. JDP,

    I agree with everything you just said in the 8:30 PM comment, but that’s not the same as someone NOT being pro-life.

  40. God knows how Richard Mourdock became Joe Mansour in my mind. I think Donnelly leaping on the issue, especially considering the fact that Donnelly has played up throughout his political career that he is a faithful Catholic, betokens a man who will sell out the pro-life cause, and that will make him a typical “pro-life” Democrat. He voted for Obamacare so I expect next to nothing from him in regard to abortion. I hope I will be pleasantly surprised but I doubt it.

  41. JDP, exactly. Pro-life is far more than one issue, so it is important to specify what aspect of the matter one is referencing.

    If the GOP was consistently pro-life, which it is not, then it would have a better shot in American elections.

  42. “Pro-life is far more than one issue”

    Give me a break. Over a million innocents slain a year and you want to mix up the fight against abortion with your pet green issues!

  43. Catholic Answers recently hired an apologist who is really good in explaining the pro-life position. His name is Trent Horn, and I think the best pro-life apologist I’ve heard. The issue of the scope of the pro-life movement was raised during a 2 hour radio show on 1/28/2013. Very much worth a listen.

    The short version is the mission of the pro-life movement is narrow, to secure the right to life for all human beings. Holding the movement accountable for other issues makes as much sense as holding the fireman accountable for finding a home for those whose home has burned down. While these acts outside the primary mission are charitable and worthwhile, they are not the focus of the pro-life movement.

  44. “If the GOP was consistently pro-life, which it is not, then it would have a better shot in American elections.”

    some of the things you mentioned as “not pro-life” have more support than the pro-life position. the death penalty for example. so no.

    cool talking points though

  45. ok you didn’t mention the death penalty, you mentioned…enviro. regulation and healthcare. which i assume means the GOP must support the exact EPA approach Obama does and support Obamacare as well or it is not “really” pro-life. k.

  46. It’s not even that the GOP should “follow” Obama. It would be outstanding for the Republican Party to its historic, traditional pro-environment stance. Republicans were the first “green party” in a sense. ConservAmerica (formerly Republicans for Environmental Protection) has been working diligently since 1995 to

    To quote the late, great Russell Kirk, ““Nothing is more conservative than conservation.” Heck, both words share the same root. It is very disappointing how conservatives ceded to the Left what was a traditional, bedrock conservative principle.

  47. The natural world and its inhabitants, first and foremost, belong to almighty God. The Bible is absolutely clear in various passages, but I will highlight my favorite. Psalms 24:1: “The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein.” Yes, we are granted “dominion” over the planet, but that does not mean “desecration” or “destruction.” I was asked by my parents to watch our home while they went on trips. DId I go and knock down walls and break the windows?

    To go one step further, St. Paul explains that Nature/Creation is evidence FOR God. Romans 1:19-20 – since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.”

    Destruction of Nature is destruction of God’s Creation. They are inseparable. Humans have to stop acting as if we are superior to God and that we stand outside the Web of Life. We are intimately connected to it all. If you think yourself outside of Nature, then hold your breath and plug your nose and don’t inhale Oxygen.

    God bless.

  48. “Destruction of Nature is destruction of God’s Creation.”

    The problem of the left, the green police, is they confuse consumption with destruction. Human consumption, other than their own of course, is a boil on earth and must be lanced.

    It’s not that they believe they can save earth. They are looking for a pet crisis for which they can justify their authoritarian control and profligate spending.

    The idea the GOP does care about conservation is silly. Review the many green initiatives started under GWB’s watch. Many of the green projects taking place under Obama’s had already begun under GWB’s. No. The GOP has no interest in America’s children drinking poisoned water or hiking on deforested national parks. Stereotype tripe.

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