As a pro-life Democrat, and a member of the party's platform committee I will be pressing for the inclusion of an abortion reduction plank in this year's platform. Kristen Day, executive director of Democrats for Life, recently unveiled the organization's "95-10 Initiative," which she believes could reduce abortions by 95 percent over the next 10 years. While I am not that optimistic I do believe that abortions could be reduced significantly if we would address the economic issues that are driving women into having abortions.
A recent study indicated that as many as 200,000 abortions could be prevented each year if the government includes contraception for low-income women on Medicaid. Also if provisions were made for medical coverage for pregnant women who cannot afford doctors and hospital care, and daycare assistance provided for mothers who are gainfully employed to support themselves and their children, the number of abortions per year could be cut even more dramatically. Too many low-income women, especially those who might become single mothers, cannot afford what better-off women take for granted.
Other proposals to decrease abortions include guaranteed maternity leave so that women do not have to choose between job security and motherhood.
Raising the minimum wage would help. Studies show that a woman working full time at the present minimum wage cannot afford the rent of even a low-cost apartment, let alone carry the additional cost of raising her unborn child.
Consider an 18-year-old single pregnant woman who is working at the minimum wage, has no health insurance, and no prospect of daycare for her unborn child. Would not these realities provide strong inclinations to have an abortion? Sadly, the same members of Congress who claim they are pro-life stand against addressing the economic measures that could dramatically reduce abortions in our country.
Hillary Clinton supported proposals such as I have cited in her so-called Pregnant Women Support Act. I hope that Barack Obama will lend his support to these same proposals and make it a part of his agenda. I also hope that pro-life Republicans might consider what can be done as they face up to the stressful economic realities that so many pregnant poor women face and make provisions to help them in their party's platform.
It is not enough to advocate the overturning of Roe vs. Wade. Pro-life Republicans must join pro-life Democrats and address the economic problems that are driving hundreds of thousands of young women to think that abortion is their only option. Such Republicans should also remember that for two years their party controlled the White House, the Congress and had a conservative Supreme Court, and yet made no concerted effort during that time to address the abortion issue. That might be why many Evangelicals who had given the Republicans their votes four years ago are having second thoughts about voting Republican this time around.
If the Democrats are going to make any dent in the support that Evangelicals now provide for the Republicans, they had better address the abortion issue and do what is necessary to show that while their party might still remain pro-choice, it has become a party committed to making abortions rare.