DENVER - The Democratic Party has high hopes this year of reaching some pro-life voters. Their selling point: an updated platform that pushes the need to reduce abortions.
Could a Change in Strategy Also Change Minds?
Democrats are sending signals they hope show a softer side on the abortion issue. For example, pro-life Sen. Robert Casey talked about it from the convention podium.
"Now Barack Obama and I have an honest disgreement on the issue of abortion, but the fact that I'm speaking here tonight is testament to Barack's ability to show respect to the views of people who may disgree with him," he said.
Casey also worked to show the party's movement by touting legislation to help pregnant women and this year's abortion platform.
The new platform continues the party's opposition to any restrictions on abortion. It commits the party to using tax dollars to pay for abortions when a woman can't. But what's new is its expanded discussion on abortion reduction.
"You have a couple of key voting blocs of moderate evangelical and centrist Catholics who are very aligned with the Democrats on economic issues and the war but they stumble on abortion," Steve Walman with Belifnet.com explained.
Many Democrats believe the new dialogue could sway some of those voters.
"I think it's a step in the right direction," said Alexia Kelly of Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good. "Certainly there's work to be done, but I think it shows great faith in embracing the real moral concerns that Catholics and other religious voters have on this issue."
Skepticism Still Abounds
Across the city this week, pro-life sights and sounds were clear on the side of a mountain, with walls of flowers to remember the unborn children, and in daily prayer events. When it comes to the Democrat's platform, many are outright skeptical.
"Sen. Obama hasn't really been practicing what he preaches and if you look at his voting record it's one of the most liberal abortion voting records in all of the Senate," pro-life activist Kaitlyn Clare said.
Many conservatives and Republicans say ultimately it comes down to legal protection for the unborn. And they disagree that government services are the best way to help pregnant women.
"We support the goal of aiding pregnant women," said Peter Sprigg with the Family Research Council. "That's what the pregnancy resource movement is all about. That is a tremendous success of grass-roots movement."
For now, both sides are looking to Barack Obama to better define his views on abortion, and explain just what kind of priority it would be for an Obama presidency.