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Prolife Democrats

All Over the Place

Consistent ethic people come in all sorts, politically. There are Republicans attracted to the prolife positions of many Republican leaders, Democrats attracted to social justice stands of many Democratic leaders, and Independents not committed to either of the major parties.

Many Democrats are torn, wanting to support their Party because they are more at home with many of its economics and social justice positions, but detest its promotion of abortion. They have been encouraged by such leaders as Tony Hall (D-OH) who have spoken out against world hunger and abortion and for social justice. Some new groups are at work to advance the prolife position in the Democratic Party.

On the previous page, there's a speech by Dr. Lois Kerschen, President of Democrats for Life of Texas. This active and energetic group says:

"Democrats for Life strives to reach a wide cross-section of Democratic voters. Whatever their race, whatever their religious belief, they are welcome. This organization does not take a stand on other issues and is not a political action committee. Democrats for Life is made-up of people who vote in the Democratic primary and value the life of the unborn child. Our goals are to encourage political participation by prolife Democrats and to provide a voice for prolife Democrats.

"Membership is open to all prolife Democrats. Annual dues provide for organizational operation and a newsletter. The state is divided into nine regions, each with a director who serves on the state board. Members are eligible to hold office and establish local affiliates. With your participation, we can become a strong voice for prolife Democrats.

Democrats for Life of Texas is mainly a state organization working in Texas, although there is a movement to tie the existing state organizations together into a national organization.

In Indiana, Indiana Democrats for Life was founded by Sally Winn. Paul Glader wrote an article about her in the Indianapolis Star/News, April 5, 1997. He described her as a confident single mother of two, an admirer of Susan B. Anthony and Mattie Brinkershof. He said that she supports gay rights and affirmative action, believes that government should provide a safety net for the poor, and protested Desert Storm.

Winn was raised by Democratic, activist parents, and was once pro-choice. This changed when she became pregnant, and had to decide what to do. She faced the fact that the baby was a human being with a beating heart and human rights.

Winn points out the prolife views of early feminists such as Susan B. Anthony and Mattie Brinkerhof, and says one can't assume a feminist is pro-choice. She points out the many successful prolife Democratic politicians, like Robert Casey, former governor of Pennsylvania, and Indiana Representative Tim Roemer, and the 23 Democrats in the Indiana General Assembly who are prolife. "It will take time," she said, "but I know our party can find its way back to its prolife roots."

Winn offered some great ideas for starting up a Dems for Life group.

Get a list of all your local and national elected officials addresses and phone numbers, district numbers and counties they're in (you can draw on local groups to help you with discussions and lobbying of these officials.)

Identify local and national prolife Democrats, check with local prolife groups to see if they have voting records or life surveys. On the national level, check with NRLC.

Get a media list, preferably FAX numbers of all the media (print, TV, radio) statewide.

Come up with a title for yourself (Chairperson, Coordinator, President, etc.) and come up with a name for your group. My suggestion would be (the name of your state) Democrats for Life, because there are existing groups using that form of name.

Make up some letterheads and business cards (this can be done on your computer, doesn't have to be fancy.)

Contact other prolife groups and let them know that you exist and are willing to work together on life issues.

Send an introductory letter to legislators, other prolife groups, churches, etc. and press releases to media.

When legislation comes up that pertains to life issues, call, fax or write! Especially fax press releases when legislation or other issues (clinic violence, e.g.), or late breaking educational information come up This is where you need the media list.

Write letters to the editor and include your title in closing - you make a point and get free publicity.

Consider getting involved with Party activities -Young Dems, precinct committees, or whatever.

Pay attention to good opportunities to go pass out flyers (homemade of course).

It has been really inspiring to be in touch with this creative, energetic activist!

Harmony has also contacted John Schmidt of Kentucky Democrats for Life, who shared some of his ideas. He reported that:

"We join and speak at Dem clubs, at the State Dem meetings, help prolife Dem candidates with office work calls and yard signs, and represent ourselves at RTL meetings and rallies. We have also prepared questionnaires and flyers.

"We have bought tables at party fund raisers. I have written any contacts I came across to inform them about us, including those filing in the primaries.

"We even sent flyers to all the Democrats in the KY house of Reps."

Schmidt's organization is very simple and informal. He noted that, "We did not organize with a constitution, by-laws and elected officers, and we haven't done fund raising."

I asked founder John Schmidt what had inspired him to begin this enterprise. He said,

"Democrats for Life was conceived after the disappointment I encountered during work in a primary election campaign. I realized how the abortion question has been avoided by candidates and how little politicians addressed it. Good Democrats expressed frustration with the party that constantly avoided representing their views. About this time a state legislative house district seat was vacated, and as a committee person I had a vote to select his replacement. All the candidates for the position were pro-abortion including avowed Christians. This renewed my pledge to work for Democratic prolife candidates.

"We, DFL, are a group of Democrats committed to the promotion of prolife Democrats. ... Most of our political activity has been limited to promoting prolife Democrats through mailings. We have concentrated on visibility especially among Democratic organizations and at some community functions. Growth has been moderate but steady! Lately we have been able to identify prolife candidates and assist them.

DFL knows there are thousands of us within the Democratic party. Our committee is simply grass roots and narrowly focused. We are long time and life time Democrats who agree generally with our party."

We applaud the efforts of all these good people to bring one of our major parties closer to a consistent position. We are eager to hear from people who are working on projects like this in other political parties.

It will take time, but I know our party can find its way back to its prolife roots.

Harmony: August 1997

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