Before the 2016 election, there was at least breathing room for pro-life Democrats. Since 1976, the Hyde Amendment, with bipartisan support, has prohibited the use of public funds for abortion. And former president Bill Clinton’s assertion that abortion ought to be “safe, legal and rare” implicitly acknowledged the value of unborn life.
As a lifelong, card-carrying Kennedy Democrat, I am distressed with my party’s disregard for the value of the human fetus and for the party’s precarious assumption that all Democrats agree with this extreme position. As Charles Krauthammer observed: “Of all the major social issues, abortion is the only one that has not moved toward increasing liberalization” [“The price of fetal parts,” July 25, 2015].
The Democratic Party would be wise to understand that not all of its members, and certainly not all voters, give abortion the moral equivalence of an appendectomy. Many voters would prefer to see abortion become rare.
“Abortion on demand” in the third trimester just does not exist. Women who need abortions in late pregnancy have been told by a doctor that their baby has some condition — such as microcephaly or a major, irreparable heart defect — that will make it impossible for that baby to live. Under these terribly difficult circumstances, women may decide it is best for their mental and physical health to terminate the pregnancy. They don’t want to; they have to. And even if they did want to, no reputable doctor would abort a viable fetus, because they are forbidden to, both ethically and legally. There is no such thing as abortion on demand in the third trimester, and to claim there is, or that anyone supports it, is a lie.