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The “Bold, Unmistakable Colors” of Our Parties’ Platforms

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

Did you ever think, “There’s not much difference between the two candidates in this race?"

If so, think again. Candidates represent entire parties, and bring with them -- to victory or defeat -- an entire army of people guided by a particular philosophy, set of principles and policy preferences.

As we saw when the party platforms were issued at the Republican and Democratic conventions last month, the differences couldn’t be more striking.

While Ronald Reagan famously called his party’s 1976 platform “a banner of bold, unmistakable colors, with no pastel shades,” this year’s party policy statements are no less vivid.  If anything, the party banners are now in bright neon colors. And they contrast sharply with each other.

The clash is particularly evident when looking at each party’s views on the protection of human life and religious liberty.

The Democrats proudly touted the fact that the 2016 Democratic platform “goes further than previous [ones] on women’s reproductive rights.”  Indeed, the document calls for unregulated and government financed abortion on demand.  It states that all state and federal laws that “impede a woman’s access to abortion” should be repealed, as should all restrictions on taxpayer funding of abortion. 

So what would the Democrats regard as an “impediment” to abortion? 

Well, according to the votes of Democrat politicians, just about anything that might lead a woman to reconsider this life-changing and life-ending event – and thereby cut into an abortionist’s profits – would have to be eliminated.

There are now 27 state laws that ensure a woman is given a 24-hour period to consider her options before undergoing an abortion.  All would be rescinded.

Thirty-eight state laws ensuring that parents are notified or give consent prior to a minor daughter’s abortion?  All revoked. 

Over forty state laws protecting from abortion unborn babies capable of surviving outside their mothers’ wombs?  All quashed.

The laws protecting children from being killed in the birth canal by partial-birth abortion ban?  Crushed.  The Hyde amendment that prevents most Medicaid funding for abortion in two-thirds of the states?  Cancelled. 

But taxpayer funding for the business that’s the billion-dollar giant of the abortion industry?  Under the Democratic platform, that would continue to be money in the bank for Planned Parenthood.

The Republican platform, though, tells a different story.  It states that the party opposes public funding for “organizations, like Planned Parenthood, so long as they provide or refer for elective abortions or sell fetal body parts rather than provide healthcare.”  And that’s just the beginning of party’s pro-life stance.

The Republican platform affirms“that the unborn child has a fundamental right to life which cannot be infringed.”  As such, the document declares the party’s support for a human life amendment to the Constitution and “legislation to make clear that the Fourteenth Amendment’s protections apply to children before birth.”

Of course, when legislation is involved, so are the courts.  Here the parties are night-and-day as well.

Republicans note in their platform that the next President will not only nominate a successor to the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, he or she could name up to five justices to the nine-member high court during his or her tenure.  They state, “We support the appointment of judges who respect traditional family values and the sanctity of innocent human life.”  Democrats, however, say, “We will appoint judges who… protect a woman’s right to safe and legal abortion….”

Stated more broadly, Republicans consider the Constitution not as a “flexible document,” but as “the blueprint for ordered liberty.”  Democrats see our foundational document as “a blueprint for progress,” with “progress” apparently meaning, in part, more and more abortions.

Judging from the actions of the Obama administration, “progress” also means the repression of religious liberty.  A prime example of this, of course, is the still ongoing court battle between religious non-profit groups like the one I lead, Priests for Life, and the Obamacare HHS mandate.  It involves dozens of lawsuits where the federal Department of Health and Human Services is seeking to force faith-based charities, schools, and other organizations to help distribute abortion causing drugs and devices to our employees.

In short, the HHS mandate is forcing religious organizations to choose between obeying God and obeying the Obama administration.  Here, the Republican platform comes down firmly in support of the right of religious practice.  It states, “We pledge to defend the religious beliefs and rights of conscience of all Americans and to safeguard religious institutions against government control.”It adds that “if God-given, natural, inalienable rights come in conflict with government, court, or human-granted rights, God-given, natural, inalienable rights always prevail.”

The Democratic platform is more hesitant and qualifying in its support for religious liberty.  It says, “We believe in lifting up and valuing the good work of people of faith and religious organizations and finding ways to support that work where possible.”  Judging from the actions of the Obama administration, though, it’s apparently not “possible” to support the work of religious groups that oppose abortion.

So, if you have trouble finding the differences between two candidates in any race, consider the parties they represent. Republicans are still red and Democrats are still blue.  When it comes to abortion and religious liberty, there’s no purple in either party’s platform.

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