WASHINGTON, D.C., June 4, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com) – A former state chairman of the Democratic Party has said his party has become too intolerant on the issue of abortion.
Former Alabama Party Chairman Joe Turnham said, “the national platform does not welcome those who oppose abortion even though our whole life position is a natural fit with Democratic priorities of aiding the hungry, poor and downtrodden.”
“A recent Gallup Poll indicated that over a one-third of Democrats oppose abortion,” said Turnham, citing a poll that indicated the number of Americans who described themselves as pro-choice hit an all-time low. “I am proud to add my name to those who are calling for a big tent policy that includes pro-life Democrats.”
His comments were posted on the website of Democrats for Life of America (DFLA), which is organizing a petition drive for the Democratic Party to amend its platform to acknowledge the existence of pro-lifers in the party.
DFLA’s proposed plank reads: “We respect the conscience of each American and recognize that members of our Party have deeply held and sometimes differing positions on issues of personal conscience, like abortion and the death penalty.”
As of this writing, the DFLA petition has 1,140 signatures.
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Turnham, who stepped down from party leadership after a landslide defeat in the 2010 midterm elections, made clear he did not believe abortion should be the defining issue for voters. “We must not allow our differences of opinion on abortion get in the way of ensuring that government protects those who cannot protect themselves,” he said
His plea for tolerance came one day after seven elected officials changed their party affiliation from Democrat to Republican in neighboring Mississippi.
Some former Democrats have cited the party’s pro-choice dogmatism as their reason for leaving the party. Georgia State Representative Doug McKillip of Athens, a former Democrat, says he joined the GOP after he became a Christian and came to believe life begins at conception. Earlier this year, McKillip introduced a bill to limit abortion to the first 20 weeks of pregnancy earlier this year.
In March, Texas State Representative J.M. Lozano switched parties, saying he cherished “pro-life, pro-business” sentiments.
DFLA has a strained relationship with the pro-life movement at large, with President Kristen Day having joined a legal action against Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony list in 2010, that could have resulted in Dannenfelser receiving a jail sentence. The action was based upon SBA List’s use of billboards declaring that Representative Driehaus of Ohio’s 1st Congressional District had voted for taxpayer-funded abortions by voting for Obama’s health care bill.
DFLA has proclaimed it was “proud” to support President Obama’s health care bill, which allows funding for abortion-inducing drugs.
Turham joins fellow Southerner Jimmy Carter in calling on party leaders to reconcile pro-life Democrats to the party.
Critics say the move is a cynical ploy to win enough cultural conservatives to win back Congress, where pro-abortion leaders will assume leadership positions. Others say the Democrats must moderate themselves on abortion if they ever hope to make a good showing in the once Solid South. J. Matt Barber, vice president of Liberty Counsel Action, told LifeSiteNews.com, “Jimmy Carter, though he wasn’t much of a president, is astute enough to recognize this is a battle they’re going to lose.”