Are Democrats Now Pro-Life?

Democrats talk about including a pro-life voice at Denver convention.

ByABC News via GMA logo
February 19, 2009, 12:49 AM

Aug. 9, 2008 — -- The Democratic Party is engaged in a political high-wire act -- trying to bring in pro-life supporters without offending its pro-choice base.

This is a tight rope Democrats have been walking since 1992, when the party took a risky step by barring popular Democratic Pennsylvania Gov. Robert P. Casey Sr. from speaking at its convention because of his stance on the abortion issue.

During the 1992 convention Casey, along with over 30 other prominent figures in politics, commerce, academics and religion, endorsed a full-page advertisement in The New York Times which set forth their desire for "communities and policies that help women to deal with crisis pregnancies by eliminating the crisis, not the child."

Today that position still doesn't wash with dyed-in-the-wool pro-choice Democrats. But in a close election year, the party and its presumptive nominee, Barack Obama, are rethinking how they talk about the issue.

It's all part of an effort to woo back a critical demographic: white Catholics.

"For [Obama] to find himself sitting on top of a party platform that seems to exclude many of the beliefs of voters who are important to him makes no sense at all," said ABC News' Cokie Roberts.

A recent poll by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press shows John McCain edging out Obama among white Catholic voters. Some pro-life Democrats are trying to change that.

"As a party we have to remember we are the big tent and have to make room for people with diverse views on this issue," said Kristen Day, the executive director of Democrats for Life in America, a group that opposes capital punishment and euthanasia in addition to abortion.

The proposed new language mentions better care for pregnant women and newborns, the need for easier adoptions and an overall effort to reduce abortions.

"We're hopeful that some language will be included that will say pro-life Democrats welcome, but at the end of the day we're still Democrats and we're gonna work hard to work on things that we strongly believe in," Day said.