The Extinction of Pro-Life Democrats in Congress

by John Fund

As the nation marked the 42nd anniversary of Roe v. Wade this month, polls show the country is more pro-life than ever. A Gallup poll finds that even among Democratic voters, about a third are “pro-life.” But in Congress, the party that celebrates “diversity” and “tolerance” is more monolithic than ever. According to Democrats for Life, the number of pro-life Democrats with voting privileges in Congress can now be counted on the fingers of one hand.

This week, Democratic congressman Tim Ryan of Ohio dropped his pro-life position. “My faith is important to me, and like many Catholics I strive to adhere to its principles, especially one of the essential and highest teachings of ‘judge not, lest ye be judged,’” Ryan wrote in the Akron Beacon Journal. “I’ve heard firsthand from women of all ages, races, and socioeconomic backgrounds about the circumstances and hardships that accompany this personal choice, which we should not judge.” Pro-life groups quickly noted that Ryan has said he has been “cultivating relationships around the country for the past couple of years” in preparation for a 2016 challenge to GOP Senator Rob Portman. Ryan denies politics is involved, saying: “The reality is, this is just where my heart is right now.”

The reality is that the Democratic party is clearly now more one-sided on the abortion issue than the Republican party. Senate minority leader Harry Reid gave lip service to a pro-life position until recently but has abandoned that view. Bill Clinton, Al Gore, Jesse Jackson, and Dick Gephardt all opposed abortion funding or denounced abortion early in their careers but have now said goodbye to all that.

It was only five years ago that 20 House Democrats voted to defund Planned Parenthood. Today, only three of those 20 remain in Congress — Collin Peterson of Minnesota, Dan Lipinski of Illinois, and 81-year-old non-voting delegate Madeleine Bordallo from Guam. The rest have retired and been replaced by pro-choice Democrats or been defeated by Republicans.

It’s been just over 20 years since pro-choice Democrats blocked the late Pennsylvania governor Bob Casey from speaking at the Democratic convention, simply because he was pro-life. Now it would be difficult to even find a pro-life Democrat to give a speech.

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