Detroit News Opinion: To win Michigan, Joe Biden must moderate on abortion

By Kristen Day 

As published in The Detroit News:

Michigan is a key state in this presidential election, and to win it, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden must moderate on abortion.

While its drifted blue, Michigan is a moderate pro-life state and there is room for Vice President Biden to appeal to voters who are looking for an alternative to the current President - but not with his current support and allegiance to abortion policies considered extreme.

For years, Joe Biden was a stalwart supporter of the Hyde Amendment, but he abruptly reversed his position in June of 2019. (This amendment prevents federal tax dollars from being used to fund abortion) During a Planned Parenthood forum for presidential candidates, Biden explained that he could no longer stand by the Hyde Amendment because, under his proposed healthcare plan, many more people, the majority of whom are low-income and people of color, would receive federally funded healthcare, and Hyde would prevent this large swath of new beneficiaries from accessing abortion.

Democrats for Life of America applauds Vice-President Biden's efforts to expand healthcare coverage but is deeply dismayed by his flip on Hyde. Poll after poll shows unequivocally that the majority of Americans oppose federal funding for the killing of preborn children. For example, a January 2020 Marist poll indicated that 60% of Americans oppose using tax dollars to fund abortion. A 2019 Politco/Morning Consult poll indicated that 41% of Democratic women support the Hyde Amendment while 39% oppose it. Further, a June 2019 SBA List/McLaughln poll indicated that half of all voters were less likely to support Joe Biden after he made the announcement to oppose the Hyde Amendment.

If Vice President Biden expects to make inroads in Michigan and other swing states, he must consider the importance of this voting block. In a July 2019 interview with the progressive news outlet CruxNow, Kim Daniels, associate director of Georgetown University's Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public life, stated, "Plenty of pro-life Catholics are looking for an alternative to voting for President Trump. We wish the Democratic Party would offer us an alternative instead of doubling down on support for abortion throughout pregnancy, taxpayer funding, and the like."

Safe, legal, and rare has been the Democrats' mantra for decades. The party's 2000 platform created a big tent, recognizing and welcoming Americans with diverse views on abortion. On the other hand, the DNC's 2020 platform completely alienates pro-life Democrat voters who otherwise align with liberal or progressive beliefs by vowing to codify Roe v. Wade and eliminate the Hyde Amendment.

This abortion extremism not only compromises our party's stance on human rights for the weakest and most vulnerable of human life, it's also a losing electoral issue. In 2010, Republicans used the threat of taxpayer-funded abortions to defeat Democrats who supported the Affordable Care Act. This strategy in part enabled them to retake the House. Extreme support for abortion on demand for any reason contributed to Hillary Clinton’s loss in 2016, alienating thousands of pro-life Democrat and Independent Americans who would otherwise have voted blue.

It may surprise you to know that a significant number of Independent and Democrat voters are actually pro-life. But they are. According to the last national Gallup Poll on abortion, nearly 30% of Democratic voters, and 44% of Independent voters identify as pro-life. These numbers represent millions of voters. During this critical election season, the Democrats must decide which is more important: defeating Donald Trump or cozying up to the abortion lobby.

The Democratic Party used to bridle at being called "the party of abortion on demand", but now it seems to take pride in the label, claiming that this absolutist stance comes from listening to marginalized communities. Nothing could be further from fact. The party is listening only to the interests of a corporate lobby focused on ending the lives of the very population the Party claims to represent.


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