Pro-life ac­tivists vex Demo­crat faith panel

The Washington Times Weekly - - Advertisement - BY VA­LERIE RICHARDSON

DEN­VER | The Demo­cratic Na­tional Con­ven­tion’s first-ever Faith in Action pan­els were heavy with calls for ex­panded so­cial pro­grams but were again vexed by pro-life demon­stra­tors crit­i­cal of the party’s stance on abor­tion.

Ac­cord­ing to pan­elists, re­li­gious vot­ers should place at the top of their po­lit­i­cal agen­das more gov­ern­ment-funded health care, a higher min­i­mum wage, bet­ter treat­ment for il­le­gal im­mi­grants, se­cur­ing the vote for re­leased felons, and more fund­ing for arts and mu­sic pro­grams at pub­lic schools.

“Poverty is an af­front to God,” said the Rev. Jen­nifer Kot­tler of the Let Jus­tice Roll Liv­ing Wage Coali­tion. “If we con­tinue to let peo­ple fall be­hind, we do so at our peril, both our spir­i­tual and eco­nomic peril. [. . . ] We have to ed­u­cate our faith com­mu­ni­ties.”

But Su­san Brooks Thistle­waite of the Chicago The­o­log­i­cal Sem­i­nary was in­ter­rupted re­peat­edly by two pro-life ac­tivists af­ter she an­nounced that “I’ve been a pas­tor for 35 years, and I’m in fa­vor of choice.”

“I’m in fa­vor of women hav­ing lots of choices. I’m proud our [Demo­cratic] plat­form sup­ports Roe v. Wade,” Mrs. Thistle­waite said.

“Does that lit­tle child have a choice?” shouted one ac­tivist be­fore be­ing led from the meet­ing room at the Den­ver Con­ven­tion Cen­ter.

A pre­con­ven­tion in­ter­faith gath­er­ing Aug. 24 was sim­i­larly in­ter­rupted by abor­tion op­po­nents de­nounc­ing the party’s pro-choice stance.

Mrs. Thistle­waite called for re­duc­ing “the need for abor­tions” by in­creas­ing pub­lic fund­ing for pre­and post­na­tal care and uni­ver­sal health care for chil­dren, ex­pand­ing parental leave, and in­creas­ing ed­u­ca­tional op­por­tu­ni­ties for young women.

“Repub­li­can rhetoric is empty. There’s no sup­port for fam­i­lies,” Mrs. Thistle­waite said. “When Se­na­tor Obama is pres­i­dent, then we can say we are one peo­ple, one na­tion, and women are not alone.”

For­mer Rep. Tim Roe­mer of In­di­ana, who de­scribed him­self as pro-life, called on fel­low Democrats to find com­mon ground with the pro-life vote by fo­cus­ing on preven­tion, ab­sti­nence and adop­tion.

He cited a House bill that aims to re­duce the abor­tion rate by 95 per­cent in the next 10 years. At the same time, he crit­i­cized Repub­li­cans for what he de­scribed as a pol­icy of “at­tack, ad­ver­tise and ar­gue, and not do­ing any­thing to re­duce the amount of abor­tions in this coun­try.”

Or­ga­niz­ers un­der­scored the point with dozens of signs say­ing, “Pro Fam­ily, Pro-Obama.”

“We are unashamed of seek­ing the sup­port of faith-based vot­ers, and not just the­o­ret­i­cal sup­port, but their votes,” said Joshua Dubois, the Obama cam­paign’s na­tional di­rec­tor of re­li­gious af­fairs.

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