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February 10, 2017 (703) 424-6663
Democratic Party Refuses Petition to Include Democrats
Who Want to Reduce Abortion
Washington, D.C. – Pro-life Democrats in Michigan asked a simple question of its leadership – include pro-life Democratsin the big tent of the party of diversity and inclusion. The answer was a stunning no. Pro-life Democrats focus on programs to support pregnant women, such as paid maternity leave, support for parents who receive a prenatal diagnosis, prenatal and postnatal care, affordable childcare, and other efforts to support pregnant women and new parents.
“Pro-life Democratsbelieve that our party has the best opportunity to reduce abortion in this country and ensure that no woman feels that abortion is her only choice,” said Kristen Day, executive director of Democrats For Life of America. “The language offered by our Michigan Democrats offers an opportunity to open the big tent and bring Democrats back to the party.”
The proposed language, approved by the Leelanau Democrats, states:
“We respect the conscience of each American and recognize that members of our party have deeply held and sometimes differing positions on issues of personal conscience, such as abortion and the death penalty. We recognize the diversity of views as a source of strength, and we welcome into our ranks all Americans who may hold differing positions on these and other issues.”
Former State Representative John O’Neill has been leading the effort, and he made the case before his local party. They recognized the importance of not alienating members of their own party. John then took the next step, taking the resolution to the Michigan Democratic Party. The Leelanau resolution was rejected by the Michigan Democratic Party’s Resolutions Committee, but O’Neill hopes to find a way to introduce it on the floor at the Michigan Democratic Party Spring State Convention at Cobo Hall in Detroit this Saturday, February 11, 2017.
“The Leelanau Democrats, most of whom are pro-choice, sent me to the state party with this inclusive language for Democratswho support the sanctity of life and 99 percent of the Democratic Party platform,” said O’Neill. “It’s disappointing, then, to witness the state Resolutions Committee reject out of hand this resolution that is entirely in keeping with the Democratic values of respect for personal conscience and diversity. How can a party succeed when it abandons its core values? We will not give up until we return the party to its roots.”
Pro-life Democrats are not asking the Michigan Democratic Party to change its stance on choice, but only to add language to welcome pro-life Democrats under the big tent. The Michigan Democratic Party has mirrored the national party’s downward trend. Nationally, Democrats have lost more than 1,000 state legislative seats, and the party is at its lowest numbers since the beginning of the 19th century. Michigan is one of 27 states in which Republicans control all three branches of state government.
“Democrats have little hope of reclaiming their majority status if they continue to exclude one-third of their membership,” said Jason Duncan, state contact for Michigan Democrats For Life. “Polls consistently show that one-third of Democrats are pro-life, and this stamp of disapproval and exclusion by our state party sends the wrong message to pro-life Democratic voters. Michigan is missing an opportunity to show what the "big tent" strategy looks like and set an example for state parties across the country.”
Millennials are more pro-life than any generation before them since Roe v. Wade, but they feel as if they are at a loss when it comes to finding a political party to support.
“As much as my peers and I love the values of egalitarianism and justice which the Democrats uphold, I can't help but notice the inconsistency of neglecting the human rights of prenatal children,” said Chrissy Healy, medical student and pro-life Democrat. “I know I could never violate my conscience by voting for a candidate who supports extremist pro-choice legislation even if I support the vast majority of his or herother positions. If room were made within the Democratic Party for people like meand the other pro-life people in my generation, I wouldn't hesitate to give it my full support.”
One in three Democrats are already pro-life, and most Americans in the middle support pro-life policies, such as the halting of federal funding for abortion. But the Democratic Party keeps rejecting its pro-life base in favor of extremist positions, further alienating Americans and risking the future of both the party and the country. Since the national party abandoned the 50 State Strategy that would have supported pro-life candidates, the Democratic Party has lost 912 state legislative seats and the control of 30 state legislative chambers, 69 U.S. House seats, 13 U.S. Senate seats, and 13 governorships.
"The Democratic Party is in deep trouble," said former Michigan State Rep. Joel Sheltrown. "We have one Democratic representative north of US 10, and if we continue to push away members of our own party, we will remain a minority party. People who are pro-life make sure they get to the polls and vote. We need those votes to win. And, right now, those pro-life Democratic voters are not supporting our party."
The following article was published January 30th in the New York Daily News by DFLA Board Member Charles Camosy. The link to the article is here.
The physician-assisted suicide debate has arrived in New York in earnest.
Last week saw the Medical Aid in Dying Act introduced in the state Legislature. The bill would allow doctors to prescribe lethal doses of drugs to terminally ill patients. Those patients would then have the option to ingest the drugs and kill themselves. The push is led by Democratic legislators including Assemblywoman Amy Paulin of Scarsdale and Sen. Diane Savino of Staten Island.
But when you think deeply about the practice of assisted suicide, it is antithetical to liberal values.
Paulin led the charge on this bill after experiencing her sister’s battle with ovarian cancer. She had to use feeding tubes for nearly a year because of how the cancer attacked her stomach. Her sister eventually refused all treatment and died soon after, but the worst part was that when the end did come, Paulin was unable to be present with her sister.
“I will always remember when my brother-in-law said to me: ‘All she wanted was for you to be there,’ ” Paulin said. “It’s broken my heart.”
No one can be unmoved by such stories. Those who support physician-assisted suicide do so out of place of deep compassion for vulnerable, suffering people.
But most people who honestly contemplate the long-term consequences of this legislation realize that legalizing the practice does the opposite of what is intended.
Such was the case in 2012 when Massachusetts had assisted suicide on the ballot. Polls indicated overwhelming support — only 19% wanted it to remain illegal. But as the people of the commonwealth began to study and understand the issue, support began to fade.
And while some think of physician-assisted suicide as a liberal cause, the rhetoric of most supporters is deeply conservative. Even libertarian: “Get big government out of our lives! Privacy! Freedom! My individual rights trump your view of justice!”
That’s why the wife of the late U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy, Victoria Kennedy, claimed that passing assisted suicide in Massachusetts would insult the memory of her husband. Physicians’ groups and disability rights organizations also let the public know they didn’t want to legalize this form of expedited dying.
The results were astonishing. In just a few months, Massachusetts progressives turned the polls around and defeated the ballot measure.
We cannot let difficult and emotional cases make bad law. Palliative care — and especially terminal sedation — can now keep almost all patients from feeling even the worst pain. Stories like Paulin’s above conjure up scary images of patients writhing in torment — but in reality physical pain doesn’t even make the top five reasons people request physician-assisted suicide.
The reasons far more likely to be about not wanting to be a burden on others.
But there is absolutely no way to control the reasons why anyone requests assisted suicide. Which leads to impossible questions: What’s the basis for limiting it to those who will die in six months; why not six years? Why need one be dying in the first place? We are told in other medical contexts, after all, that the state is not to get between a patient and her doctor.
Think this is too dramatic? Consider the Dutch, who also highly prize freedom and autonomy, and have had euthanasia for several decades now. They first limited it to cases of “hopeless and unbearable suffering,” but just a few years ago, an otherwise healthy woman was killed via assisted suicide simply because she was losing her eyesight.
We can see the beginnings of a similar slippery slope in Oregon, where doctors have seen assisted-suicide drugs kill depressed patients.
On other issues, liberals rightly focus on how laws affect vulnerable populations. Liberals in Massachusetts worried that older people, already thought to be a drain or burden in a culture which worships youth and capital production, might be pressured to consider assisted suicide.
Those of us with progressive philosophies must instead unequivocally affirm the goodness of the existence of the old and sick. Especially when our consumerist culture tells them they have no net value.
Given our American obsession with autonomy and freedom, this slope can do nothing but get even more slippery.
Camosy is an associate professor at Fordham University specializing in bioethics.