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ELECTION 2008 | Sen. Casey To Speak at Democratic National Convention, Not Expected To Address Abortion Issues

ELECTION 2008 | Sen. Casey To Speak at Democratic National Convention, Not Expected To Address Abortion Issues
[Aug 14, 2008]

Democratic Party leaders on Wednesday announced a lineup of speakers who are slated to address the Democratic National Convention in Denver, including Sen. Robert Casey (D-Pa.), who opposes abortion rights, who will be a featured speaker on Aug. 26, the Washington Post reports. According to the Post, Casey is not expected to speak about abortion, but some Democratic leaders said his selection speaks to the issue (Weisman/Shear, Washington Post, 8/14).

Casey's late father, former Pennsylvania Gov. Robert Casey (D), was denied a speaking slot at the 1992 Democratic National Convention because of his opposition to abortion rights. Neither Casey nor the campaign of Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama revealed what the topic of Casey's speech would be, the AP/ reports (Hefling, AP/, 8/13).

Delegates at the convention will consider a platform that contains different language on abortion than the party's previous platform. The draft platform says, "The Democratic Party strongly and unequivocally supports Roe v. Wade and a woman's right to choose a safe and legal abortion, regardless of ability to pay, and we oppose any and all efforts to weaken or undermine that right. The Democratic Party also strongly supports access to affordable family planning services and comprehensive age-appropriate sex education, which empower people to make informed choices and live healthy lives. We also recognize that such health care and education help reduce the number of unintended pregnancies and thereby also reduce the need for abortions. The Democratic Party also strongly supports a woman's decision to have a child by ensuring access to and availability of programs for pre- and postnatal health care, parenting skills, income support and caring adoption programs."

The party's previous platform states, "Because we believe in the privacy and equality of women, we stand proudly for a woman's right to choose, consistent with Roe v. Wade, and regardless of her ability to pay. We stand firmly against Republican efforts to undermine that right. At the same time, we strongly support family planning and adoption incentives. Abortion should be safe, legal and rare" (Daily Women's Health Policy Report, 8/13).

Opinion Piece

The selection of Casey for a prominent speaking role at the convention and the draft platform are "part of the Obama campaign's concerted effort to signal a more moderate approach to abortion -- in hope of attracting more [Roman] Catholic and evangelical votes," New York Post columnist Kirsten Powers writes in an opinion piece. According to Powers, some religious leaders have given the Obama campaign "credit" for seeking a "middle ground" on abortion, but other Christian leaders say that what "really matters is what Obama says about it -- and how much emphasis he gives the issue."

Powers writes that Obama should use a meeting with the Rev. Rick Warren on Saturday to reaffirm that he believes abortion has a moral dimension, as well as "explain or disavow" his votes against the Illinois Born Alive Infants Protection Act. "Rarely does doing what's right and what is politically expedient line up so well," Powers writes, concluding, "It's up to Obama to seize the opportunity" (Powers, New York Post, 8/14).