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US democratic candidate debate 14 jan.jpg
World News

Over 100 Christian leaders urge Democrats to soften stance on abortion

by Premier Journalist

A group of more than 100 Christian pastors and religious academics is urging the Democratic National Committee to adopt a party platform that is friendlier to pro-life voters. 

In a letter organised by the pro-life group Democrats for Life, the group of Christians calls on the Democratic Party to rescind its platform's support for ending restrictions on federal funding for abortion.

They write: "Inspired by the Christian faith, we note that the Bible calls on us to speak up in favor of those who do not have a voice. We also note that life begins at fertilisation. Finally, we note that abortion takes the life of the innocent, which is against Scripture."

Supporting the Party's attitude on injustice, the Christian groups states: "We appreciate the Democratic Party’s stated commitment to human rights, equality, and fairness. Accordingly, we urge the Democratic Party to embrace policies that protect both women and children: legal protection for pre-born children, improved prenatal care for women in need, especially women of colour, alternatives to abortion, and a comprehensive culture of life free from violence, poverty and racism.

"We call upon you to recognise the inviolable human dignity of the child, before and after birth. We urge you to reject a litmus test on pro-life people of faith seeking office in the Democratic Party."

Last year, Joe Biden, the Democrat's presumptive presidential nominee, shifted his position to back an end to restrictions on government funding for abortion.

Among the signatories of the letter are the Reverend Gabriel Salguero, president of the National Latino Evangelical Coalition and a member of former President Barack Obama's faith-based advisory council; and John DeBerry, a long-time Tennessee state representative and pastor who was recently removed from the Democratic primary ballot due in part to votes against the party's position.

Democrats for Life executive director Kristen Day said that her group had sent a letter opposing the Democratic platform's 2016 inclusion of language backing the repeal of limits on federal funding for abortion that drew far fewer signatories.

This week's letter, which includes registered Democrats as well as independents, is "a much bigger effort", she said.

Ms Day also warned that the addition of another position Mr Biden has backed, codification of the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade ruling, would alienate anti-abortion religious voters.

Mr Biden is "a little bit ahead" of where Hillary Clinton was in 2016 in terms of faith-based voter outreach, Ms Day said, but the prospect that the Democratic platform would back codification of Roe "would just massively damage relationships with religious voters who don't necessarily want to see that".

While Democrats have shifted leftward on abortion in recent years, there is some evidence that abortion opponents are still open to supporting the party.

Minnesota Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar, despite her strong abortion-rights voting record, won unlikely praise from some abortion critics in February for saying that anti-abortion Democrats "are part of our party".

Ms Day recalled Mr Obama's work toward "common ground" on abortion, as the former president put it in 2008, and noted that the Biden campaign has hired a faith adviser who worked on Mr Obama's reelection bid.

"It's hugely important for the campaign and vice president Biden to understand the importance of this vote," Ms Day said of anti-abortion Democrats who may be motivated by their faith.

"It shouldn't be taken for granted."

A draft Democratic platform released this week will be voted on by mail before the party's mostly-virtual convention, which is set to start on August 17.

President Donald Trump has nominated two Supreme Court justices during his term in office who are considered conservatives and whoever wins November's election would be in control of the process to fill any vacancies on the panel.

It is the Supreme Court which has the final say on matters like abortion and pro-life campaigners are hoping to overturn the Roe vs Wade ruling that legalised it.

Read the full letter here


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