Editor’s Note: Live Action cannot take a position on federal candidates. This article is a discussion of DFLA’s endorsement, and not a position statement by Live Action.
UPDATE: Democrats for Life has informed us that they have changed their position and do not endorse Tim Kaine any longer. Kristen Day states:
Former DNC Chairman and Governor Tim Kaine has been a friend to DFLA and has previously defined himself as a pro-life Democrat. While Governor, Kaine signed the Choose Life license plate bill into law. We were proud to work with the Governor to ensure the bill was passed and critical funds could be used to support crisis pregnancy centers. He also signed into law the Pregnant Women Support Act to help women in crisis pregnancy and opposes federal funding of abortion. While Chair of the DNC, he supported pro-life Democrats and his policies helped elect pro-life elected officials. His spokesman and website are is now identifying him as a pro-choice Democrat. DFLA, therefore, cannot endorse Governor Kaine. However, should he be elected to the Senate, we look forward to the opportunity to work with him to pass pro-life legislation.
Every election cycle, pro-life groups are faced with the question of which candidates they will publicly endorse, which ones they will personally vote for, and which ones they will oppose. Candidates who boldly speak out in support of life are often supported by these groups. But what’s a pro-life group to do when faced with an “iffy” candidate – one who is neither fully pro-life nor fully pro-choice by the group’s definitions?
Massachusetts Citizens for Life faced its own quandary in the race between GOP Senator Scott Brown and Democrat candidate Elizabeth Warren. Now, Democrats for Life of America is facing the results of its own choice to back Democrat Tim Kaine in his Virginia Senate race against the GOP’s George Allen.
Tim Kaine’s website makes it clear that he will not support restrictions of Roe v. Wade – an important indicator of a candidate’s true pro-life views:
I strongly support the right of women to make their own health and reproductive decisions and, for that reason, will oppose efforts to weaken or subvert the basic holding of Roe v. Wade. We all share the goal of reducing unwanted pregnancies and abortions. The right way to do this is through education and access to health care and contraception rather than criminalizing women’s reproductive decisions.
On the contrary, George Allen makes it clear that he will vote for multiple limits on abortion on in the law. He also clearly outlines his view on protecting human life in five paragraphs dedicated to the topic. A portion reads:
My commitment to protecting innocent human life is firm. I believe that life begins at conception and support legislation declaring the personhood of every individual life. I oppose abortion except in the rare cases where the pregnancy was caused by rape or incest, and when necessary to save the life of the mother.
… George Allen will continue this record after his election to the Senate in 2012. Specifically, he pledges to:
- support the re-instatement of the Mexico City policy prohibiting American taxpayers’ dollars from funding any U.N. or international program that encourages or performs abortions.
- vote to prohibit any federal funding from going to organizations that operate Abortion clinics (not bona fide hospitals) such as Planned Parenthood.
- oppose the use or importation of any drug that is for the purpose of causing abortions, such as RU-486.
- work to reverse the current Administration’s funding of Embryonic Stem Cell research outside of the current lines approved under the Bush Administration in 2001, as well as continue to oppose human cloning.
Despite the clear difference in Kaine’s and Allen’s policies, the Democrats for Life of America have endorsed Kaine and are sticking to it. I’ve personally interacted with officers of my state’s DFLA as well as with Kristen Day, president of DFLA. I’ve found them to be sincere people who work hard to save lives. Often, they take unpopular but necessary positions in their party. When I heard the news of DFLA’s endorsement of Kaine, I wrote and asked a few questions. Kristen Day kindly responded almost immediately. She wrote:
We want to end abortion and promote life at all stages. We do not think the current pro-life policy of only supporting Republican candidates and Dan Lipinski is a good long term policy for the pro-life movement. We have never pretended to be anything other than what our name says. We are pro-life Democrats and support pro-life Democrat candidates.
We need leaders on both sides of the aisle willing to stand up for life issues and those willing to listen and work to promote pro-life policies.
We support Chairman Kaine because of his record and work with DFLA. While Governor, Tim Kaine signed the Choose Life Life license plate bill in law. We were proud to work with the Governor to ensure the bill was passed and critical funds could be used to support crisis pregnancy centers. He also signed in to law the Pregnant Women Support Act introduced by Senator Phil Puckett and cosponsored by then Republican Senator Ken Cuccinelli. While Chair of the DNC, he supported pro-life Democrats and his policies help elect pro-life elected officials.
We need strong leaders in the Democratic Party to remove the litmus test on abortion and ultimately take abortion out of the Democratic Platform. We also need to build a pro-life Democratic presence in the Senate. A caucus on one is not going to have much sway, but a caucus of 4 or more will be much more effective. We have an opportunity to double our caucus and we think this is important for the future of the pro-life movement.
It’s certainly comforting to find out that Kaine has supported more pro-life laws and candidates than his current website would lead one to believe. It’s also clear that the Democrat Party needs pro-life leaders to sway the party towards life and against abortion. But is Kaine truly a pro-life Democrat? In the Senate, Kaine will not be signing bills into law that his legislature passed. He will be left to vote according to his own positions. Based on his own statements, how can pro-lifers believe that he will vote for any legislation to restrict Roe in any way?
I firmly believe in the sincerity and good intentions of Kristen Day and the DFLA. However, this situation leads me to pose several questions to pro-life organizations and prominent figures who take positions in various political races:
1) Why are we so willing to “settle” for candidate who are barely pro-life and mostly pro-choice?
2) Why do we not insist on more real action and leadership before endorsing a candidate?
3) Why does party sometimes become so much more important than who will truly help stop abortion?
4) Why are we so quick to compromise pro-life standards and actively endorse or support candidates who believe in the basic holding of Roe – the decision that has led to the murder of 55 million babies and counting?
We can’t demand perfection, but our standard of “pro-life” ought to be a high one when we bestow that label on candidates.