A Democratic Party proposal to amend the party's platform to include more progressive language around abortion rights has outraged Democrats who oppose abortion, with some saying the issue has cost Hillary Clinton their votes.
The fallout centers around a proposal to repeal long-standing legislation that limits federal funds for abortions, except in cases of rape, incest or life-threatening pregnancies — the so-called Hyde Amendment. Some version of this ban has been included in annual federal spending bills since the late 1970s.
The draft platform says Democrats "will continue to stand up to Republican efforts to defund Planned Parenthood health centers" and "will continue to oppose — and seek to overturn — federal and state laws and policies that impede a woman’s access to abortion, including by repealing the Hyde Amendment."
Kristen Day, executive director of Democrats for Life, said the progressive language on the platform is making the party smaller. “This platform’s language just says (to abortion opponents) you are no longer welcome,” she said. “This has been the general message pro-life Democrats are receiving across the country.”
Day said ever since the Democratic National Committee released its 2016 platform draft July 1, she has gotten calls from Democrats that oppose abortion and say the language is keeping them from voting for Clinton.
Carol Crossed, 72, a retired elementary school professor from Rochester, N.Y., is one of those Democrats.
“They are pro-choice because they don’t want to be infringing their opinion on others,” she said. “Now their platform says if you don’t like abortions, too bad — you are going to pay for it anyway.”
Crossed believes Planned Parenthood’s connection to Clinton’s campaign could have brought on the new language.
“She’s totally showed her cards to be bought by an industry that is actually named in the platform,” Crossed said.
Other Democrats have shown concern regarding the platform’s language. Sen. Bob Casey wrote a letter to the DNC July 8 encouraging it to “place greater emphasis on access to family planning services and support for pregnant and parenting women, in lieu of repealing the Hyde Amendment.”
However, a Pew Research poll showed 70% of Democrats say abortion should be legal in most cases.
Dana Singiser, vice president of public policy and government affairs for Planned Parenthood, said in a statement the Democratic Party has consistently supported safe, legal abortions and reproductive health care.
“Planned Parenthood applauds the 2016 platform's historic support for repeal of the Hyde amendment, which has disproportionately harmed women of color for years,” Singiser said.
Democratic Rep. Tim Ryan of Ohio, who had previously been active in the Congressional Pro-Life Caucus, said over time he came to understand the government should have no role in a woman’s decision to get an abortion.
“There is no doubt that this law disproportionately hurts low-income and minority women from receiving access to quality healthcare,” he said in a statement. “All women, regardless of their race, ethnicity, religion, or income level, should have the same reproductive and economic freedoms — and I am proud to be a member of a party fighting to for these civil liberties.”