Democrats for Life of America
This article needs to be updated.April 2018)(
|Type||501(c)(4) non-profit organization|
|Focus||Pro-life political advocacy within the Democratic Party|
Democrats for Life of America (DFLA) is a 501(c)(4) American political advocacy nonprofit organization that seeks to elect anti-abortion Democrats and to encourage the Democratic Party to oppose euthanasia, capital punishment and abortion. Democrats for Life of America's position on abortion is in opposition to the current platform of the Democratic Party, which generally opposes restrictions on abortion.
The group takes no position on most socio-economic issues or any foreign policy. They have drafted the Pregnant Women Support Act, a comprehensive package of federal legislation and policy proposals that supporters hope will reduce the number of abortions. They have an affiliated political action committee, DFLA PAC.
They have proposed linking a ban on abortions after 20 weeks of gestation to increased support for pregnant women and mothers, such as paid medical leave and/or more support for affordable day care.
In 1999, Democrats for Life of America was founded to coordinate, at a national level, the efforts of pro-life Democrats.
In the 1960s and 1970s, pro-life Democrats comprised a substantial portion of the Party's membership in the United States Congress and the United States Senate. Some Democratic presidential and vice-presidential candidates ran for those offices as pro-life, including Hubert Humphrey and Sargent Shriver. Others were once pro-life before running, such as Ted Kennedy, Jesse Jackson, Bill Clinton and Al Gore. In the 1980s, the influence of pro-life advocates in the Democratic Party declined slowly but considerably. At the 1992 Democratic National Convention, pro-life Governor Robert Casey of Pennsylvania was allegedly "barred from addressing the Convention because of his antiabortion views". The official reason given by the Convention organizers was that Casey was not allowed to speak because he did not support the Democratic ticket. Kathy Taylor, a pro-choice activist from Pennsylvania, instead addressed the convention. Taylor was a Republican who had worked for Casey's opponent in the previous gubernatorial election. Several pro-life Democrats did address the delegates in 1992, though they did not address the pro-life stance, and were not given prominent prime time slots. Governor Casey's son Bob Casey, Jr., also a pro-life Democrat, spoke during the 2008 Democratic National Convention.
As its name implies, DFLA aims to encompass members of the Democratic Party who are pro-life, cutting against the stereotype that Democrats are naturally pro-choice and that those who are pro-life are naturally Republicans.
Relationship to the Democratic National Committee
This section needs to be updated. In particular: a more recent party platform should be cited.March 2019)(
Relationship with other pro-life organizations
In 2010, the previously cordial relationship between DFLA and the pro-life movement at large was significantly damaged amid controversy over the March 2009 decision of pro-life congressman Bart Stupak (D-MI), co-author of the Stupak–Pitts Amendment who for months had led an effort to keep abortion funding out of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, to strike a deal with President Barack Obama in which Stupak and many of his supporters would vote in favor of the bill and Obama would sign an executive order forbidding federal dollars from being used to fund abortions. Nearly all pro-life organizations who had previously supported Stupak (such as the National Right to Life Committee and the Susan B. Anthony List) decried the deal as a farce, saying the executive order lacked the legal force to prevent tax dollars from being used for abortions. Several pro-life Democrats were targeted for defeat by national pro-life groups over the PPACA vote, and the ranks of pro-life Democrats were cut roughly in half in the 2010 elections.
Pro-life Democrats in recent elections
In their 2005 book, Take It Back: Our Party, Our Country, Our Future, Paul Begala and James Carville praised Democrats For Life for their work that led to the Pregnant Women Support Act. In the book they say the legislation "is built around seventeen concrete policy proposals that would reduce the number of abortions.... We believe these proposals would do more to prevent abortions than all the speeches, all the marches and all the campaign ads the pro-lifers have used over the past 30 years." They go on to call it "both good politics and, we think, good policy". The initiative has become legislation known as the Pregnant Women Support Act, which "has gained broad support and even has attracted some Republican backers". The Commonwealth of Virginia is the first state to pass a version of the PWSA.
Organizations and Individuals who support the bill include the National Association of Evangelicals, Sojourners/Call to Renewal, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Americans United for Life, National Council on Adoption, Life Education and Resource Network, Redeem the Vote, Care Net, Tony Campolo (founder of the Evangelical Association for the Promotion of Education), Joe Turnham (Chairman, Alabama Democratic Party), U.S. Senator Bob Casey, Jr., and actor Martin Sheen.
The organization has endorsed Congresswoman Kathy Dahlkemper and Congressmen Jim Oberstar, Joe Donnelly, Steve Driehaus and many other pro-life Democrats for the 2010 midterm elections, and its PAC raised over $42,000 in 2010. Of the four mentioned above, only Donnelly was successfully re-elected. Oberstar was defeated after 18 terms. Additionally, all four of the freshmen successfully endorsed by DFLA in 2008 were defeated for re-election in 2010 (see above).
Representative Dan Lipinski, a long-time pro-life Democrat, from one of Illinois' Chicago-area House districts won his primary. In Pennsylvania, Representative Conor Lamb, who identifies as personally pro-life, won his special election for the 18th Congressional district. Republican House Speaker, Paul Ryan, referred to Lamb as pro-life when explaining the election outcome. Nevertheless, Lamb said this was his personal belief and that he's from "a Catholic background, (but) choice is the law of the land.” Three Democratic Senators, who self-identify as pro-life, had voted to ban abortion after 20 weeks and ran for re-election to the US Senate; Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, Joe Donnelly of Indiana, and Joe Manchin of West Virginia had all voted with most Republicans on the issue. Donnelly and Manchin had been endorsed by Democrats for Life in their re-election bids.
On the afternoon of July 20, 2018, DLFA Executive Director Kristen Day hosted an event where pro-life Democrats from around the nation gathered for their first annual conference at a Radisson Hotel in Aurora, Colorado. Over eighteen individual speaking sessions were arranged over the course of three days. The keynote speaker on Friday evening was former U.S. Representative Bart Stupak (D-MI) who was instrumental in keeping abortion funding out of the Affordable Care Act in 2010. Stupak discussed the challenges of being a pro-life Democrat while promoting his new book For All Americans.
- Abortion debate
- American Solidarity Party
- Factions in the Democratic Party
- Fetal and children's rights
- Libertarians for Life
- Philosophical aspects
- Republican Majority for Choice
- United States pro-life movement
- "Form 990: Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax". Democrats for Life of America. Guidestar. December 31, 2010.
- "Board of Directors". Democrats for Life of America. Accessed on April 18, 2016.
- "Executive Staff". Democrats for Life of America. Accessed on April 18, 2016.
- Winters, Michael Sean (July 17, 2015). "The Planned Parenthood Undercover Video". National Catholic Reporter.
- Shailagh Murray (January 21, 2007). "Democrats Seek to Avert Abortion Clashes". The Washington Post. p. A5.
- The New Republic: Casey And The Democratic Convention. April 19, 2007.
- Washington Post: Casey Speaks to a Changed Party. August 26, 2008.
- Interview with Bob Casey, Jr. | Valerie Schmalz | July 29, 2005
- Democrats for Life Keeps Trashing Pro-Life Groups on ObamaCare, Abortion
- Tobin Grant and Ruth Moon, The Death of Pro-Life Democrats, Christianity Today, 28 October 2010, accessed 23 January 2011
- Rep. Lincoln Davis (2006). "Davis Introduces Comprehensive Proposal". Archived from the original on 2007-01-11. Retrieved 2007-01-24.
- Health vote haunts anti-abortion Democrats
- "Pro-Life Democrat Dan Lipinski Wins Illinois Primary | National Review". National Review. 2018-03-21. Retrieved 2018-06-27.
- "Opinion | Conor Lamb and Abortion". Retrieved 2018-06-27.
- Ashley Killough; Sunlen Serfaty; Eric Bradner. "Ryan on special election: 'Candidates ran as conservatives'". CNN. Retrieved 2018-06-27.
- "Democrats look to win PA-18 with a (sort of) pro-life candidate". City & State PA. 2017-12-07. Retrieved 2018-06-27.
- "Senate Rejects Measure to Ban Abortion After 20 Weeks of Pregnancy". Retrieved 2018-06-27.
- Davis, Susan. "5 Senators Who Will Likely Decide The Next Supreme Court Justice". Retrieved 2018-07-03.