“The Single Issue that Our Politicians Have Feared and Scorned”
Badly bruised by Senator Kennedy in the 1980 Democratic presidential primaries, Carter was unable to fully control the 1980 convention. While he won the nomination again, he couldn’t stop—and apparently didn’t even try very hard to stop—the delegates from adopting a platform plank that supported public funding of abortion.
Meanwhile, abortion foes were flocking to the standard of Ronald Reagan, the former California governor and Republican presidential candidate. Ellen McCormack ran again—this time as an independent—and was overwhelmed by the Reagan tide.23 There were few pro-lifers at the Democratic convention, while abortion supporters were out in great strength. The National Organization for Women had its own whip system for floor votes, and leading feminists such as Eleanor Smeal, Betty Friedan and Bella Abzug were deeply involved in the platform fight.24
Abortion supporters were so bold as to have Dr. Kenneth Edelin of Boston—best known for his manslaughter conviction (later overturned) for an abortion he had done on a five or six-month-old unborn child—speak in favor of the abortion-funding plank. Edelin portrayed public funding as an urgent need of poor and minority women, appealing to the Democrats’ traditional concern “for the poor and the downtrodden in our society.” But he had nothing to say about the poor and minority children killed by abortion; nor did he suggest any nonviolent alternatives.25
Speaking out against the plank was Carol Wold, Democratic national committeewoman from Minnesota. “I am a Democrat,” she told the audience. “I am pro-life. Today my party is telling me that I cannot be both.” Wold passionately pointed out that even as she spoke, “ten children are dying from abortion. They are human and alive, tiny and unborn, just as you and I were. And those ten children are the single issue that our politicians have feared and scorned but our nation cannot avoid. For without the right to have one’s life protected, all other rights are meaningless and all other promises made by this party are cruel and hollow.”
Wold also reminded delegates that “in many states there are Democratic senators in deep trouble this year because of their pro-abortion record.”26 The election returns proved her right. Their pro-abortion records, plus Carter’s loss to Reagan, helped defeat a number of senior Democrats in the Senate.
Interesting, eh? As they say, read the whole thing.