Democrats for Life

By Dr. Lois Kerschen

This is the speech presented by Dr. Lois Kerschen, President of Democrats for Life of Texas, on January 25, 1997 to the Greater Austin Right to Life Rally. The rally was held on the steps of the Capitol in Austin after a walk by an estimated 1500 Pro-Life supporters.

Thank you, Greater Austin Right to Life, for giving me the opportunity to speak today. It is very important for people to know that you can be pro-life and a Democrat, despite the fact that the party supports abortion on demand. In fact, it is essential to the pro-life movement that Democrats who are pro-life stay in the party and make their voices heard. Think about it. If all pro-life people shunned the Democratic party, who would then speak up for the unborn?

It is too dangerous to allow a group with that much power to be totally under the influence of the pro-abortion mentality. Pro-life members of the Democratic party must let their lights shine so that others might see. We must question the platform, advocate compromise, pique the consciences of other Democrats, and serve as a buffer against the more radical elements in the party.

The Democrats for Life organization exists to provide a forum for pro-life Democrats. As part of the endeavor, every two years at the state convention, we sponsor a booth to gain exposure and to reach out to people. Sadly, there are still people who come up to us to say, "Thank God you are here. I thought I was the only one." The party has sent out such a strong and pervasive pro-abortion message that many pro-life people have felt silenced or alienated. Therefore, the purpose of Democrats for Life is to identify and connect pro-life Democrats. There is strength and courage in numbers. Together we can and do promote a pro-life agenda within the party; through organization and education we can become the majority and then we can turn the Democratic party around and make it pro-life once again.

After all, as the mission statement of our organization says: "The Democratic Party's strong commitment to human rights leads naturally to a pro-life position. Just as we care about the welfare of children, the disabled, and the elderly, we care about unborn children and their mothers." Advocating the killing of a woman's child as a way to solve her problems is inconsistent with the traditional Democratic philosophy of compassionate government. Suppressing the pro-life voice within the party is also inconsistent with the image of the Democratic party as the party of tolerance and free speech. Pro-life Democrats must insist on a consistent ethic and must insist that they be allowed to take their rightful place in the party.

One of our Democrats for Life members conducted a voter I.D. survey in his precinct in Orange, Texas to find our how many Democrats there are pro-life. He found that they were in the majority by far. We believe that his results were not a fluke but were truly representative of the party's membership. It is the leadership of the Democratic party that has gone astray from its own people, but they have successfully painted a facade of being mainstream and they claim that pro-life candidates can't get elected. But the 40 pro-life Democrats in the U. S. House of Representatives say different and because of their united effort the Democratic party platform now includes a conscience clause that admits that some members of the Democratic party cannot support the pro-choice plank because of moral or religious objections.

This language of inclusion is, I think, a big step forward for the pro-life movement. In addition, in Texas, the party leaders were asked to not allow abortion to become a "wedge" issue, but to accept that this is an issue about which we will just have to agree to disagree.

Again, I think that this stance might be an open door for pro-life Democrats. We must take advantage of this opportunity and make our presence felt by serving as precinct and committee chairs attending our precinct, county, state and national conventions and passing pro-life resolutions. We have had some notable successes in the past at precinct and county conventions, but we need to carry them all. It is also important that we support pro-life candidates and elected officials such as state senators Judith Zaffirini of Laredo and Ken Armbrister of Victoria.

Texas Democrats for Life quoted these two senators in our brochure which will be available at our booth here today. We also have bumper stickers and other literature of interest, so I encourage you to come by to talk with us and to pick up some information.

Also at the booth will be literature from Feminists for Life of America. I serve as the state contact for Feminists for Life. Those of you who attended the banquet that Greater Austin Right to Life hosted last fall got to hear Fredericka Matthews-Green, one of the most well known speakers from Feminists for Life. So, many of you know something about that organization, but I would like to remind you about our current major project, the College Outreach Program. Feminists for Life members are teaming with Crisis Pregnancy Centers to offer referrals and other information for the use of health clinics on college campuses. Far too often, these clinics don't know where to send a young woman with a problem pregnancy except to an abortion clinic. By providing them with alternatives, they know that we are giving women a real choice instead of leaving them to feel that there is no other way. If you are interested in one of our college health clinic kits or other information, please come to see me after the rally.

The Democrats for Life and Feminists for Life organizations are proof that all people can and should be pro-life. It is consistent with the root principles of both the Democratic Party and the feminist movement to respect life and to encourage the development of everyone's full potential. Freedom and equality are unattainable if there is not first life.

So, my rallying cry for this rally is to call upon former Democrats who are pro-life to come back to the party, take your place, and make your opinion known. Democrats who are closet pro-lifers, I call upon you to stop being afraid to speak the truth. On Judgment Day you will not be asked if you are a follower of the Democratic platform, but if you were a follower of the word of God. A little political power is not worth becoming an accomplice to the murder of millions of babies.

Pro-Life Democrats, let's take our party back; let's work towards transforming all Democrats into Democrats for Life!

It is consistent with the root principles of both the Democratic Party and the feminist movement to respect life and to encourage the development of everyone's full potential

The Democratic Party's strong commitment to human rights leads naturally to a pro-life position. Just as we Democrats care about children, the disabled, and the elderly, we care about unborn children and their mothers.

What Democrat can embrace the idea that a person's rights can depend upon being "wanted"?

At the grass roots level, a large number, perhaps even a majority of Democratic voters, are pro-life. These voters now have a voice within the party.

- Mission Statement of Democrats for Life of Texas


Thanks to Dr. Lois Kerschen for permission to reprint this speech. For more information about Democrats for Life of Texas, and other pro-life Democratic groups, see the following pages.

Harmony: August 1997

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