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August 2, 2004

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The B.C. Catholic is on a 3-week summer break.  The full, regular paper will return Aug. 23.

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Front Page

Pro-life Democrats rally during Boston convention

By Christine Tolfree
Catholic News Service

BOSTON (CNS) -- The 70 pro-life Democrats gathered in the great hall of the Massachusetts' Statehouse in Boston on the first day of the Democratic National Convention wore pins with the slogan "43 percent of Democrats can't be wrong."

That figure comes from a Zogby poll, which found that 43 percent of Democrats believe abortion destroys a human life.

"The Democratic Party at one time stood for the weak, the defenseless, the marginalized. Our party has drifted," said Massachusetts House Speaker Thomas M. Finneran at the July 26 dinner sponsored by Democrats for Life.

Society's moral standards also drifted as Americans became indifferent to human life, he said, likening pro-life Democrats to "political missionaries" who must work "one soul, one vote, one idea, one at a time."

Kristen Day, executive director of Democrats for Life, said that "being a pro-life Democrat isn't easy, as any of these delegates can tell you, but we're trying to change that."

Democrats for Life was formed about two-and-a-half years ago with the goal of helping elect pro-life Democrats and supporting pro-life legislation. The organization includes abortion, the death penalty and euthanasia among the topics it addresses.

The group's president, Carol Crossed, took a poetic approach to members' goals for the Democratic party.

"The right to choose is most certainly this party's right to lose," she said.

Crossed told Catholic News Service a few days earlier that Democrats for Life has chapters in 32 states and its small staff cannot keep up with the demand for information about how to start new affiliates.

"We're growing as fast as we can answer our mail," she said.

According to Crossed, Democrats for Life hosted the dinner at the Statehouse and a rally the next day near Faneuil Hall because it did not seem likely that pro-life Democrats' views would be heard inside the national convention.

Two members of Democrats for Life were among speakers at the party's convention. Rep. Jim Turner of Texas was speaking in the context of his role as ranking minority member of the Homeland Security Committee. Rep. Jim Langevin of Rhode Island introduced Ron Reagan, who spoke in favor of embryonic stem-cell research.

Crossed said unlike many other members of Democrats for Life, Langevin supports research using stem cells obtained from embryos that would otherwise be discarded, such as from in-vitro fertilization clinics.

Three candidates in House races this year were among those at the Democrats for Life events.

Bill Gluba, a candidate for Congress from Iowa's 1st District, explained that he was chairman of the Iowa Senate committee that was about to reject a bill to legalize abortion on demand in 1973 when the Roe vs. Wade ruling took away the state's jurisdiction.

"It was a case of judicial legislation," Gluba said. "It was wrong then. It's wrong now."

Gluba, a Catholic, also spoke at the rally the following day.

"I believe that the goal of all government policies should be to promote the dignity and worth of every human being," he said. "Leaders who urge compassion to protect the rights of the unborn, while at the same time ignoring the needs of the most vulnerable in society are either ignorant or hypocritical."

Silvia Delamar, a convention delegate from Georgia, said she is running for Congress in hopes that her voice as a pro-life Democrat will prompt other politicians like herself to speak up.

"I can sleep at night because I am (pro-life)," she said.

Delamar said she became pregnant at 17 and chose to keep her child. She worked three jobs to put herself through school, graduated with honors from high school and went to college.

Bob Hagenmaier, a Catholic and congressional candidate from Florida, said told The Pilot, newspaper of the Boston Archdiocese, that it is not always easy to espouse pro-life views when running for office.

"From the reaction I've received ... I'd say it hurts me," he said.

Hagenmaier recalled that once someone offered to introduce him to other Democrats in Florida. When the fellow Democrat learned Hagenmaier is pro-life, the offer was rescinded.

He told The Pilot it helps him to remember the saints martyred for their faith.

"I don't get shown around to the Democrats," he said. "It's a small price to pay."

Also speaking at the events were Raymond Flynn, former Boston mayor and former Vatican ambassador, and Pennsylvania Auditor General Robert P. Casey Jr. In 1992 his late father, Gov. Robert P. Casey, a Catholic, was not allowed to address the convention on his pro-life beliefs.

The day before the Democratic convention opened, Father Frank Pavone, founder of Priests for Life, told an audience at a conference that "any candidate for public office who declares support for legalized abortion is also declaring support for a very different kind of government than our Founding Fathers established."

The conference, attended by local Catholics, had as its theme "Election 2004: How to Vote Authentically Catholic."

Father Pavone took issue with Catholics who say abortion is just one of many considerations in making election choices.

"The foundation of the house is just one of many parts of the house," he said, quoting a U.S. bishops' document that said abortion strikes at the house's foundation. "Take away the foundation and see how well you can build the rest of the house."

 

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