When the Democratic party was pro-life

Relevant to the topic above, Al Mohler reminds us that many of the icons of the Democratic party were once pro-life:

Most Americans would probably be surprised to know that Sen. Edward Kennedy, Jesse Jackson, and former Vice President Al Gore all were once solidly anti-abortion. That seems almost incomprehensible now, but the record is clear – and the pattern is chilling.

By the time Jesse Jackson and Al Gore came onto the national stage, abortion rights represented a major plank in the Democratic Party platform. Jackson had actually written attacks on the abortion culture, pointing to the disproportionate number of aborted African-American babies as evidence of racism. Al Gore ran for both Congress and the U.S. Senate on a pro-life record. When both men launched campaigns for the presidency, they changed positions on the abortion issue.

As for Ted Kennedy; he was pro-life as late as 1971, after New York had already legalized abortion. As Anne Hendershott documents in her article, “How Support for Abortion Became Kennedy Dogma,” in 1971 Sen. Kennedy wrote to one of his Massachusetts constituents with these words: “When history looks back to this era it should recognize this generation as one which cared about human beings enough to halt the practice of war, to provide a decent living for every family, and to fulfill its responsibility to its children from the very moment of conception.”

From the very moment of conception. Writing in The Wall Street Journal, Hendershott then explains:

But that all changed in the early ’70s, when Democratic politicians first figured out that the powerful abortion lobby could fill their campaign coffers (and attract new liberal voters). Politicians also began to realize that, despite the Catholic Church’s teachings to the contrary, its bishops and priests had ended their public role of responding negatively to those who promoted a pro-choice agenda.

Now read the article by Anne Hendershott he is referring to, in which she describes how some liberal Catholic theologians met with the Kennedys to give them some theological rationalizations by which they could support abortion.

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  • Nemo

    …and Prescott Bush, George W’s grandfather, was a firm supporter of Planned Parenthood. George HW Bush changed his position from pro-choice to pro-life when he joined Ronald Reagan on the ticket.

  • Interesting. I didn’t know that. It’s sad that it’s now been over a generation since much of this has happened. To many people my age, as long as they’ve been paying attention, the Democrats have always had their current stance on abortion. They can’t remember that things have changed.

    It’s sad if the Catholic church has been as silent as the article says it has — especially those priests who have politicians in their care. I can’t think of a church that has more pro-choice politicians as official members — that is, a church that has the most responsibility to say something to its members who could do something.

    And yet, I can’t really endorse the actions by a few priests that I have read about. They come across as solely politically motivated (as opposed to a concern about life), since you tend to hear about them at election time (you know, Kerry was a pro-choice Catholic before 2004 — did anyone discuss denying him the eucharist before that?). And it turns the discussion away from concern for life to one of concern about the goodness of John Kerry and his worthiness to receive Communion, one that tends to warp the whole concept.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    Is history taught in American schools still? They call it social studies now, right?

    Oh, to learn one’s history! We should also return to that ancient practice which can sometimes lead to real wisdom.

    We must teach better the vocation of parent and teacher I think. That is another hard work answer to the problems of our day.

  • CRB

    I think what America may face in the future unless there is a turning to the true and only God in Christ Jesus what the prophet Micah has written:
    Mic. 1:7 All her carved images shall be beaten to pieces,
    And all her pay as a harlot shall be burned with the fire;
    All her idols I will lay desolate,
    For she gathered it from the pay of a harlot,
    And they shall return to the pay of a harlot.”

  • Efrem

    Add Tip O’Neill to the list of once-pro-life Democrats. Ironically, he first came to power as the Speaker of the Massachusetts House in the late 1940s when a ballot measure outlawing birth control spurred the Irish and Italian Catholics to come to the voting booths in record numbers to give the Dems a majority in that house for the first time in its history.

  • Bryan Lindemood

    In response to CRB, I’m thankful that, although I’m a Christian and acknowledge that my faith helps to form my conviction in this area, I still don’t believe that the whole nation must turn to Christ in order to fix the terrible injustice wrought by laws which promote and protect abortion-on-demand. There are logical, and even scientific arguments which can lead any person no matter what their religion or worldview to see the foolishness of abortion choices.

  • kerner

    Just to be fair, I can remember when conservatives were anti-smoking. But lobbyist money changed that, too.

  • CRB

    Bryan, I withdraw the preface, but the quote remains!