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Abortion rights and the Democratic Party
We've been hearing some consternation from abortion rights supporters about Democrats' attempts to reach out to "values voters", specifically pro-life voters. Democrats are openly recruiting abortion opponents to run for the U.S. Senate.
If I were a "pro-choice" Democrat, I would not worry too much about Democrats abandoning their pro-choice views. Democrats realize that "values voters" hurt them in 2004, so they are trying to make moves to appease those voters. This is all show, however, as the Democrats have no intention of actually embracing the pro-life position. Nominating abortion opponents to run for the U.S. Senate is a tactic to get more Democrats elected, nothing more.
We see this locally in State Representative District 60, where pro-life Democrat Peggy Welch has served since 1999. I do not doubt that Welch is a genuine pro-lifer, nor do I doubt that she was genuine in her opposition to homosexual marriage. Monroe County Democrats tolerate Welch because she is the only Democrat who can win in that Republican district; having Welch represent that seat moves the Democrats closer to a majority in the House.
Other pro-life Democrats are tolerated as well. "Green" Democrat and former County Councilor Scott Wells is pro-life. Wells, however, has not been in a position to vote his convictions on abortion. If he were, I suspect that Democrats would turn on him just as they turned on pro-choice City Councilor Jeffrey Willsey when he voted against a subsidy for Planned Parenthood.
Legislatively, voting for pro-life Democrats is counterproductive. How an individual legislator votes is less important than who controls the Speaker's chair and committee chairmanships, because they control whether or not pro-life bills make it to the floor. This is why I supported pro-choice Republican candidate Paul Hager over Peggy Welch last year.