The Revenge of Bob Casey: Abortion Is a Losing Issue for the Democratic Party

By Maier, Francis X. | National Catholic Reporter, November 26, 2004 | Go to article overview
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The Revenge of Bob Casey: Abortion Is a Losing Issue for the Democratic Party

Maier, Francis X., National Catholic Reporter

My wife is a Democrat. Her family home in Chicago is lined with photos of the Kennedys. She remembers Saul Alinsky ,organizing neighborhood groups in the living room of her childhood home at the invitation of her mother and father. She volunteered on the Eugene McCarthy campaign. She worked as a floor runner at the 1968 Democratic Convention. Adlai Stevenson was a household icon.

My wife is a Democrat. Always was, always will be--at least in her heart. But she hasn't voted for a major Democratic candidate in more than 25 years. And therein lies a lesson for any Democrat who wants to understand the debris of the 2004 election.

I met my wife before I had returned to my childhood faith. One day I made the mistake of poking fun at those Neanderthal Catholic views on abortion. What I got for my ignorance was a kindly but memorable tutoring on the sanctity of human life.

For my wife and her family, being a Catholic meant being a Democrat, and being a Democrat meant fighting for the little guy--literally. That included the poor, the homeless, racial and ethnic minorities and the unemployed. It also meant defending the unborn child.

For my wife, arguing whether an unborn child was a "full human person" or a "developing human being" was irrelevant--or worse, a kind of lying. The dignity of the unborn life involved was exactly the same, whatever one called it.

In the years since the 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion on demand, my wife and I have struggled many times with the choice of voting Democratic. Our youngest son has Down syndrome, and Democratic policies often benefit the disabled in ways Republican policies don't.

But it's also true that children like our son are becoming extinct in part because the abortion lobby has a stranglehold on the Democratic Party platform, with all that it implies for legislation and judicial appointments. The easiest response to handicapped children is to kill them before they arrive. That's not a solution. That's homicide.

As Mother Teresa said throughout her ministry among the poor, abortion is the seed of war. We can't build a just society while killing a million unborn children a year. No matter how much good we try to do, we can't outrun the effects of that most intimate form of violence against women and children.

Not so long ago, leading Democrats understood this. Robert P. Casey, governor of Pennsylvania from 1987 to 1995, embodied the deepest ideals of the Democratic Party: pro-worker; pro-minority; pro-economic and social justice; and also thoroughly pro-life, from conception to natural death.

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The Revenge of Bob Casey: Abortion Is a Losing Issue for the Democratic Party


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