Will the Democratic Party Support Pro-life Democrats or Keep Losing?

Simone Pathé writes about calls to create a big tent Democratic Party:

But as the party struggles to make inroads in red states, where its economic message may resonate more than its social values, some Democrats think there needs to be more flexibility on that issue.

“We talk about inclusiveness for everyone and yet when it comes to the pro-life issue, we’re told we don’t belong and there’s no place for us,” said Kristen Day, executive director of Democrats for Life. “And it’s affecting our numbers.”…

Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan has changed his position on abortion since coming to Congress. He now supports abortion rights, but he’s been vocal about keeping an open mind on social issues to make gains in regions of the country where Democrats are underrepresented.

“You need pro-life Democrats,” he said. “We’re not going to get home without them.”…

“It’s created a real and unnecessary divide,” Ohio Rep. Marcy Kaptur said earlier this month when asked if an abortion-rights focus turns off voters who might be otherwise inclined to vote Democratic on economic issues.

“Our party ought to be a very big tent party and welcome people from all persuasions,” she said.

Thomas Groome, a professor at Boston College, argues that the Democratic Party should stop being ‘the abortion party’ by changing its messaging, finding the middle ground, and reaching out to voters who have a mixed position on the subject:

Amid Mr. Trump’s dysfunction as president, Democrats may have a chance to reclaim their Catholic base in the 2018 midterm elections. By tradition and by our church’s teaching on social justice, many Catholics could readily return to voting reliably Democratic. But for this to happen, their moral concerns regarding abortion must get a hearing within the party, rather than being summarily dismissed. How might that happen?

To begin with, Democratic politicians should publicly acknowledge that abortion is an issue of profound moral and religious concern. As a candidate, Barack Obama did just that in a 2008 interview, saying, “Those who diminish the moral elements of the decision aren’t expressing the full reality of it.”

Democrats should not threaten to repeal the Hyde Amendment, which forbids federal funds to be used for abortion except in extreme circumstances. They could also champion an aggressive program to promote adoption by strengthening the Adoption Assistance Act of 1980 and streamlining adoption procedures. The regulations in many states seem designed to discourage it.

Democratic politicians should also continue to frame their efforts to improve health and social services as a way to decrease abortions. The abortion rate dropped 21 percent from 2009 to 2014….

That Donald Trump, claiming to be anti-abortion, got the majority of Catholic votes to defeat a competent and decent Democrat underscores the continuing influence of abortion in American politics. If Democrats want to regain the Catholic vote, they must treat abortion as a moral issue, work for its continued reduction and articulate a more nuanced message than, “We support Roe v. Wade.”