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,"
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
"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
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
"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
"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
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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