Sunday, September 16, 2012

Quotes from the 2012 Democratic National Convention

The 2012 Democratic National Convention took place in Charlotte, NC on September 4-6, shortly after the Republican National Convention concluded in Tampa, FL. The DNC was noteworthy not only for its strong LGBTQ presence, but for the presence of women who have fought for reproductive justice. Among the many speakers at the DNC were reproductive rights advocate Sandra Fluke, Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards, and NARAL president Nancy Keenan. Unfortunately, Cardinal Timothy Dolan's prayer, with its subtle disapproval of abortion and same-sex marriage, came as an unpleasant surprise to a convention that supported both.

Sandra Fluke, who testified on contraceptive coverage before the House Steering and Policy Committee earlier this year (see here and here) made a bold speech about reproductive justice at the convention.
"During this campaign, we've heard about two profoundly different futures that could await women in this country, and how one of those futures looks like an offensive, obsolete relic of our past. Warnings of that future are not distractions. They are not imagined. That future could become real. In that America, your new president could be a man who stands by when a public figure tries to silence a private citizen with hateful slurs. A man who won't stand up to those slurs or to any of the extreme bigoted voices in his own party. It would be an America in which you have a new vice-president who co-sponsored a bill that would allow pregnant women to die preventable deaths in our emergency rooms. An America in which states humiliate women by forcing us to endure invasive ultrasounds that we don't want and our doctors say that we don't need. An America in which access to birth control is controlled by people who will never use it. An America in which politicians redefine rape and victims are victimized all over again, in which someone decides which domestic violence victim deserves access to services and which don't."
Planned Parenthood Federation of America president Cecile Richards spoke to an enthusiastic audience at the convention, slamming Republican leaders who have fought against women's reproductive rights.
"Two years ago when Paul Ryan and John Boehner and Todd Akin and the  Tea Party took over the House of Representatives, they promised us they were going to create jobs and jumpstart the economy, but instead, on day one, they came after women's health and they haven't let up since. Right? So first, end cancer screenings and well-women visits for five million women. They voted top end funding for birth control with Planned Parenthood, and for good measure, they even tried to redefine rape. [Crowd boos] And now, Mitt Romney is campaigning to get rid of Planned Parenthood and overturn Roe v. Wade, and we won't let him."
NARAL Pro-Choice America president Nancy Keenan praised the Democratic party for its stance on reproductive rights. Amusingly, she also threw in a jab at Todd Akin for his ill-thought comments on rape.
"I am proud to say that the Democratic party believes that women have the right to choose a safe, legal abortion with dignity and with privacy. We believe in family planning because it helps to prevent unintended pregnancy. We believe that a woman considering an abortion should not be forced to have an ultrasound against her will. We believe that rape is rape. We believe that a woman should make health care decisions with her family, her doctor, and her God, and we believe that there is no room for politicians, especially those politicians who don't know how women's bodies work."
Inviting several prominent reproductive rights supporters was a savvy move by the Democratic National Convention. At a time when Republicans have alienated many progressive and moderate women by undermining abortion access and contraceptive coverage, the Democratic party now appears far more appealing. By inviting Fluke, Richards, Keenan, and others to speak, the DNC may have been reaching out to female voters who feel distressed by the right-wing war on women.

In stark contrast, Cardinal Timothy Dolan startled listeners when he delivered a closing prayer that waxed poetic about the unborn and allegedly God-given institutions.
"Thus do we praise you for the gift of life. Grant us the courage to defend it. Life without which no other rights are secure. We ask your benediction on those waiting to be born, that they may be welcomed and protected ... Show us anew that happiness is found only in respecting the laws of nature and of nature's God. Empower us with your grace so that we might resist the temptation to replace the moral law with idols of our own making, or to remake those institutions you've given us for the nurturing of life and community."
In a commentary at Raw Story, David Edwards speculates that Dolan's comments may have been a jab at the Democratic platform's stance on same-sex marriage. At the New Civil Rights Movement, David Badash was stunned at Dolan's gauche prayer, which flew in the face of the DNC's pro-choice, pro-LGBTQ messages.
"Democrats had just spent the better part of a week approving language supporting same-sex marriage equality in their platform, along with supporting a woman’s right to choose, but Dolan saw fit to be not only a bad guest, but a forced guest in what was home to a celebration of women, the LGBT community, and minorities the likes of which America has never before seen on a national stage."
Writing at Truth Wins Out, Wayne Besen launched a scathing attack on Dolan's prayer, accusing him of ignoring depravity within his own church.
"Instead of praying to end the depravity in his own church, resulting in billions of dollars in settlements, Dolan took his opportunity at the Democratic and Republican conventions to bash our healthy, happy families and promote a bogus storyline of Catholics losing religious liberty."
I have a feeling that we'll hear reproductive rights advocates praise the Democrats as the election season progresses. Cardinal Dolan, on the other hand . . .


  1. Way to go Wayne Besen! He nailed it IMO. Ahab, I'm looking forward to your post on the Values Summit.

    1. Donna -- Truth Wins Out has a habit of nailing it, which is why I love their blog so much.

      The Values Voters Summit was a doozy, but I expected no less. Stay tuned...

  2. I'm confused - Dolan gave a closing prayer at the DNC?

    I am so tired of religion and politics getting so mixed up together; whatever happened to separation of church and state?

    1. Postmormon Girl -- What happened indeed. A lot of people were surprised that Dolan led a prayer at the DNC.

    2. Yes, I was a little confused by that myself! All those great speeches, then Mr. Prayer!?

    3. Knatolee -- A pretty stark contrast, wasn't it?

  3. I really enjoyed watching the DNC. The RNC on the other hand ...

    1. Cognitive Dissenter -- I thought some of the speeches at the DNC were awesome. The RNC was just surreal.


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