Cover Story

His to win

"His to win" Continued...

Issue: "Two-ring circus," Sept. 6, 2008

Despite the new language, the party's revised platform retains its ardent support for legalized abortion, and even strengthens that stance. It declares that the party "strongly and unequivocally supports Roe v. Wade" and drops the former language that says: "Abortion should be safe, legal, and rare."

Obama adviser Casey rejects the notion that the new platform is more pro-abortion. "That's a Republican talking point," he told WORLD. But Michael Yaki, a Democratic platform director, told The Wall Street Journal: "We put a woman's right to choose in a lockbox, and strengthened the language significantly." Yaki added that "either side could put their own moral gloss on the language."

Inside the convention, pro-abortion supporters applauded efforts to help pregnant women but vigorously defended legalized abortion, making clear that any softening on abortion was limited.

Susan Brooks, a Chicago Theological Seminary professor, looked intense as she stood in front of a row of dark blue signs reading "Pro-family, Pro-Obama." Brooks had been tapped to advocate a pro-abortion position at a panel discussion about faith and politics led by left-leaning evangelical Jim Wallis, and she told the group: "I've been a pastor for 35 years, and I'm in favor of choice."

Her voice quickly sharpened: "What kind of choice is it when a woman has to choose between terminating a pregnancy or being poor?" she asked. "What kind of choice is it if you don't have prenatal care?"

As applause and "amens" rose from the audience, so did two men a few rows from the front. "Is a baby a choice?" shouted one. "Isn't abortion murder?" asked the second man. After a convention staffer with a nervous smile escorted the men from the room, Brooks declared: "This is an example of not finding common ground."

(It was also an example of other confrontations that marked each day of the convention: Pro-life activist Randall Terry and other activists held large banners plastered with graphic pictures of unborn children and the slogan: "A vote for Obama is a vote for dead children." They screamed with bullhorns at angry passersby and continued shouting even when one man offered to listen if they would only talk.)

Back in the hall, not all pro-abortion supporters were pleased with the party's new language. Marjorie Signer of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice bristled when she heard talk about reducing the number of abortions. Democrats should instead exclusively talk about reducing "the need" for abortion, she said.

It's a distinction she thinks is critical to retaining legalized abortion. After all, she pointed out, "You could reduce the number of abortions right now by closing down the clinics and forcing women to have children they don't want."

Wallis told WORLD that evangelicals should work with Democrats: "We've got to find a way to reduce abortions while the legal debate goes on and on." He also charged Republicans with doing too little: "If I'm an unborn child and I want the support of the far right, I better stay unborn as long as possible. Because once I'm born, I'm off the screen."

A day later, about 10 miles southeast of the convention center, Martha Vaughan sat in a cozy room with a Hispanic client at the Colorado Pregnancy Care Center. The care center is one of eight similar ministries to women with crisis pregnancies in the greater Denver area.

The Spanish-speaking client is married with a 1-year-old daughter and comes to the care center for assistance with clothing and other resources. Like other clients, she earns "mommy money" in the "Earn While You Learn" program to purchase items like baby clothes, blankets, and diapers from the center's Pitter Patter Shop of donated and new items.

Vaughan, a bilingual staff member, asks the client about her family and learns that her husband recently lost his construction job. Vaughan gives her information on local food banks and asks about other needs. She also encourages her to take English classes and offers a list of free programs.

The center tailors educational classes to client's needs, including nutrition, infant care, and single motherhood, as well as Bible studies and other Christian-based counsel.

After watching a short video, Vaughan prays with her client and accompanies the young mother to browse the small shop. The client picks out a pack of diapers, a few toys, a denim jumper, and a pink dress with tiny roses.

Director Wendy Stone says the center serves about 60-65 clients a month and talks with young women about abortion alternatives and the resources available during and after pregnancy: "Our position is that abortion is never a good option, no matter what the circumstances."


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