Democrats For Life of America

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Democrats For Life of America (DFLA) is a sub-group of the Democratic Party in U.S. politics, which describes itself as "the preeminent national organization for pro-life Democrats."[1]


DFLA's core principle as stated on its about page is belief in "the fundamental worth, dignity, and equality of all people" and "that the protection of human life is the foundation of human rights, authentic freedom, and good government".[1]

As a result of this, DFLA's stated beliefs include opposition to abortion, euthanasia, capital punishment, embryonic stem cell research, poverty, genocide, and "all other injustices that directly and indirectly threaten human life." The organization also states opposition to tyranny, terrorism, genocide, the acquisition of weapons of mass destruction, slavery, and "all other unjust acts of violence and aggression."[1]

Consistent Life Ethic

DFLA considers itself a member of the organization, Consistent Life, previously known as the Seamless Garment Network.[2][3] Consistent Life considers 'pro-life' to indicate not only opposition to abortion and euthanasia but also to war, the death penalty, poverty, and racism.[4] In 2007, the president of Consistent Life, Bill Samuel,[5] was chosen to be the lead speaker for DFLA's annual conference.[6] Carol Crossed, the 2003 Director of DFLA, was previously the Executive Director of the Consistent Life Network.[7]


Founded in 1999,[8] DFLA sought to coordinate the efforts of pro-life Democrats, describing itself as "the only viable national organization for pro-life members of the Democratic party". In 2002, it hired Kristen Day as its first Executive Director, and created a new national office in Washington D.C.[9] In 2003, the organization joined the national March For Life.[10]

2009-2010 Obamacare Influence

House Bill: H.R. 3962

Stupak's Resistance

In June and July 2009 some 200 Planned Parenthood activists arrived in Washington[11] and a number of Pro-Choice bills began receiving support, as the Pro-Choice movement sought to ensure abortion would be mandated in health care reform.[12] The Republicans would find an unlikely ally in the Pro-Life Democrats (Democrats for Life of America). On June 25, 2009, 19 of them sent a letter to House leader Nancy Pelosi expressing refusal to support any healthcare bill with an abortion agenda,[13] which firmly stated, "Therefore, we cannot support any health care reform proposal unless it explicitly excludes abortion from the scope of any government-defined or subsidized health insurance plan... By ensuring that abortions are not funded through any health care reform package, we will take this controversial issue off the table so that Congress can focus on crafting a broadly-supported health care reform bill."[14]

In July, Stupak introduced the Stupak-Pitts amendment to ensure abortions would not be subsidized in the healthcare bill,[15] but it was defeated 30–29 in the Energy and House Committee, the committee responsible for drafting it for proposal to the entire House of Representatives, when Bart Gordon sneakily switched his vote from Yes to No last minute.[16] Chairman Henry Waxman replaced it with the Capps amendment, which mandated one healthcare plan in each state must cover abortions.[17] On July 17, 2009, Obama once more urged rapid passage of the healthcare bill.[18] Pro-Life Democrats then, in mid-July, nearly stopped the healthcare process in its tracks by initially defeating a rule required to start healthcare reform legislation, 215–214, but Democrats managed to persuade a few members to change their votes, barely passing it.[19]

Obama on July 16 pressured Republicans to support the healthcare bill, even as the Congressional Budget Office criticized the proposed healthcare reform for not paying for itself.[20] Republicans criticized the lack of tort reform and insistence on covering 5.6 million illegal immigrants.[21] Obama predicted he would be held responsible if the bill failed, stating:

"You know, I intend to be president for a while and once the bill passes, I own it. And if people look and say, 'You know what? This hasn't reduced my costs. My premiums are still going up 25 percent, insurance companies are still jerking me around,' I'm the one who's going to be held responsible."[22]

Obama initially claimed that allegations of abortion in the healthcare bill were "fabrications" by "people who are bearing false witness."[23] On August 21, he said, in a radio talk show, that claims of abortion in the bill were "not true".[17] However, a detailed analysis concluded Obama went too far in decrying claims of abortion in healthcare as fabrications, since his own previous promise of "reproductive services" in the bill coupled with the bill's wording showed that abortion likely would be subsidized by government under the bill.[24] On September 9, Obama continued to assert the bill would not fund abortions, promising immediately after Joe Wilson famously stood up and yelled "You lie!", that "Under our plan, no federal dollars will be used to fund abortions."[17]

In late September after 31 different Pro-Life Democrats had signed various letters opposing abortion in the healthcare bill, Nancy Pelosi and Obama began meeting with their leader, Bart Stupak, for the first time.[25] Stupak denied claims that he was trying to "kill" healthcare reform, stating publicly at the time, "I believe we need comprehensive healthcare reform and I am excited that we are closer than we have ever been to passing a healthcare reform bill in Congress. But any reform must address legitimate concerns, including using public funding for abortions, even if party leaders disagree."[26] On October 21, a coalition of Pro-Life groups led by key Republicans, including Mike Pence, delivered a petition signed by 137,000 Americans to Congress expressing disapproval with the healthcare reform legislation.[27]

Bill Introduced

On October 26, the House healthcare bill was unveiled, a 1,930 page piece of legislation, the Affordable Healthcare for America Act (H.R. 3962).[28] Representative Mike Pence (R-IN) accused the bill of being a "government takeover of health care in America".[29] By early November, the House was trying to pass the healthcare bill[30] but Bart Stupak claimed 40 Pro-Life Democrats could vote with him if his Stupak-Pitts Amendment was not voted on to prevent abortion funding in the bill.[31] With 218 votes required for passage, this would derail the historic vote set to occur on November 7.[32] While Senate Leader Harry Reid (D-UT) sought to create a separate bill in the Senate, he continued to lack the 60 votes needed for a public option, i.e. a government insurance program.[33]


Bart Stupak and his 40 Pro-Life Democrats refused to budge,[34] and Pelosi until the last day tried to play 'chicken', denying the Stupak Amendment its vote.[35] On November 7 Obama made personal last-minute contact with moderate Democrats in an attempt to persuade them to vote for the healthcare bill without Stupak's amendment.[36] A desperate Nancy Pelosi met with Bart Stupak last-minute and at his request, the Conference of Catholic Bishops,[37] ultimately allowing the Stupak-Pitts amendment its vote, which passed by a vote of 240–194.[38] While some Republicans had considered voting 'Present' on the Stupak amendment to defeat it and thus perhaps healthcare reform, Pro-Life groups opposed the strategy and were scoring the vote so less than a 'Yes' would change a member's perfect Pro-Life rating.[39] Republican House leader John Boehner confronted Democrat Charles Rangel on the House floor, asking whether the Stupak language would be preserved in the final bill or removed in the end, stating, "I have my doubts this language if it passes has any chance of being in the final version of this bill".[40] Boehner refused to vote for the bill without a guarantee the language would be kept.[41]

"Republican congressional leaders have to be chuckling right now. In the end, all the tea-party town halls, Glenn Beck rallies and 'death panel' rumors may have less of a hand in bringing down health care reform than an intraparty Democratic culture war. Congressman Bart Stupak of Michigan, whose amendment restricting abortion coverage on all policies sold through the new insurance exchange paved the way for passage of health reform in the House of Representatives, vows that 'there will be hell to pay' if his language gets stripped out of, or weakened in, the final legislation."

-Amy Sullivan, Time Magazine, Can Dems Resolve Their Abortion Split?[42]

On November 8, 2009, the House healthcare bill, newly amended with the Pro-Life Stupak-Pitts amendment, narrowly passed the House by a vote of 220–215.[43] Joseph Cao was the only Republican to vote in favor of the bill.[44] 39 Democrats still voted against the bill, including many fiscally conservative Blue Dog Democrats and socially conservative Pro-Life Democrats affiliated with DFLA.[45]


Afterwards, Obama stressed that it was time for the Senate to "take the baton."[46] Several Democrats including Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) revealed they voted for the bill only with the understanding that it would be removed from the final bill version.[47] The passage of Stupak's Pro-Life amendment in the House healthcare bill led to a letter signed by 40 Pro-Choice Senate Democrats, led by Diana DeGette,[48] saying that they would not pass healthcare reform unless Stupak's amendment was removed,[49] even as Senate Pro-Life Democrats vowed to reject any bills with abortion agendas. Senator Ben Nelson (D-NE) promised, "If it isn’t clear that government money is not to be used to fund abortions, I won’t vote for it," and Obama assured that "This is a health-care bill, not an abortion bill."[50]

On the Pro-Life side, a website,, was created, and Susan's B. Anthony's List, an anti-abortion group, fund-raised in attacks on the bill, receiving contributions over 50% above the previous year's levels, which it used in advertising attacks on Sen. Harry Reid. On the Pro-Choice side, Stupak's stand drew the anger of liberal groups.[51] The Progressive Change Campaign Committee performed three "Stop Stupak" fundraisers and began issuing attack ads against him in his home state of Michigan.[52] CNN's Rachel Maddow predicted a revolt among women.[53]

Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer vowed to keep the Stupak-Pitts amendment from passing in the Senate.[48] White House Senior Advisor David Axelrod claimed Obama would intervene to change the Stupak language, and Stupak responded with "They're not going to take it out. If they do, health care will not move forward,. We won fair and square. ... That's why Mr. Axelrod's not a legislator. He doesn't really know what he's talking about."[54] Polls taken in mid-November showed public support for the Pro-Life Democrat position. 61% of Americans, according to a CNN/Opinion Research Corp. survey, oppose using federal money for abortions, while a CBS News poll found 56% oppose federal subsidies for abortions.[55]

Senate Bill: H.R. 3963

On November 18 the U.S. Senate under Senate Leader Harry Reid introduced its own health care bill (H.R. 3963 The Affordable Health Care for America Act), separate from the House bill. Obama called this bill a 'milestone' and urged Congress to pass it quickly.[56]

Senator Ben Nelson of Nebraska attempted to introduce the Nelson Amendment, a Pro-Life amendment identical to the Stupak-Pitts amendment, but it was defeated 54–45.[57]

Members of Congress

Past Members of Congress

Political Action Committee

A related PAC, Democrats For Life of America PAC, is hosted by ActBlue.[64] OpenSecrets reports the group raised $13,869 in 2010 and $5,843 in 2008.[65]

External links


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Democrats For Life of America. About Us
  2. 2.0 2.1 Day, K. (2008, April 22). DFLA Endorses Don Cazayoux in Special Election.
  3. Consistent Life. Member Organizations.
  4. Consistent Life. About Us.
  5. Consistent Life. Ethic Speakers.
  6. Samuel, B. (2007, June 20). Bill Samuel's Web Journal. Consistent Life Ethic Remarks to DFLA.
  7. Lally, J. (2003, August 26). Women's Equity Day.
  8. Day, K. (2003, June 3). DFLA Praises Democrats Who Supported the Partial Birth Abortion Ban.
  9. Day, K. (2002, June 7). Democrats For Life of America, Hiring First Executive Director, Pledges to Revive Pro-Life Movement.
  10. Day, K. (2003, January 18). Democrats To Join March For Life.
  11. Connolly, C. (2009, July 13). "State of Play: Democrats Dig In Despite Senate Focus on Hearings." Daily Dose. Washington Post.
  12. Novak, V. (2009, July 31). "Surgery for Seniors vs. Abortions?"
  13. Kenworthy, Z. (2009, June 30). "President Obama's Approval Index Rating Takes a Dive." FOX News.
    Russert, L. (2009, July 16). "Health Bill to Floor in Two Weeks." First Read. MSNBC.
  14. Gilbert, Kathleen (2009, June 26). "Pro-Life Democrats Unite to Protect Unborn Children in Healthcare Restructuring." LifeSiteNews.
  15. (2009, July 22). "Dem Says Abortion Language a Must in Healthcare Bill. CBS News.
  16. McCormack, J. (2009, July 31). "Waxman Strong-Arms Vote to Allow Abortion Coverage in Public Plan." The Weekly Standard.
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 Menges, D. (2009, October 30). "Stupak On the Attack." The Washington Times.
  18. (2009, July 17). "Obama Urges Congress to Pass Health Care Reform." AFP.
    Ferraro, T. & Smith, D. (2009, September 10). "Democrats Seek to Build Momentum On Healthcare." Reuters.
  19. Pergram, C. (2009, July 17). "Abortion Debate May Complicate Efforts to Overhaul Health Care." FOX News.
  20. Dixon, K. (2009, July 16). "WRAPUP 2-Obama Looks for Republican Healthcare Backing." The New York Times.
  21. (2009, July 22). "President Obama Uses Magnetism, Political Capital to Push Health Care Bill." FOX News.
  22. Kroft, S. (2009, September 13). "Obama on Health Care: 'I Own It'." 60 Minutes. CBS News.
  23. Bordlee, D. (2009, September 30). "Pelosi & Co. Talk Abortion." The National Review.
    Winfield, P. (2009, October 23). "Health Care Reform Splits Democrats on Abortion." Christianity Today.
  24. Jackson, B. (2009, August 21). "Abortion: Which Side Is Fabricating?"
  25. Kirkpatrick, D. (2009, September 28). "Abortion Fight Complicates Healthcare Debate." New York Times.
    Gilgoff, D. (2009, November 9). "The Country's Emerging Shift on Abortion." U.S. News & World Report.
  26. Stupak, B. (2009, October 29). "Stupak: I am Not Trying to Kill Health Care Reform; Abortion Still a Concern." The Hill.
  27. Brandt, J. (2009, October 21). "House Members Raise Concerns Over Abortion Funding in Health Reform Bill." FOX News.
  28. Allen, J. & Soaghan, M. (2009, November 29). "Pelosi Unveils Healthcare Bill; House Moves Toward Floor Vote." The Hill.
    Jackson, J. (2009, November 7). "Key Provisions of the House Healthcare Bill." CBS News.
  29. Barrett, T., Bash, D., et. al. (2009, October 29). "House Democrats Unveil $894 Billion Health Care Bill." CNN.
  30. (2009, November 4). "Democrats Running Out of Time to Address Abortion Dispute." FOX News.
    Oliphant, J. (2009, November 4). "Delay on Health Care Bills Loom in Congress." The Chicago Tribune.
    (2009, November 2). "Abortion Part of Health Care Reform Still in Question." FOX News.
    (2009, November 2). "Abortion Foes Seek to Use Health Plan to Curb Access." USA Today.
  31. Bacon Jr., P. (2009, November 3). "Some Democrats Concerned Over Abortion Provisions in Health Bill." The Washington Post.
    McCormack, J. (2009, September 21). "Democratic Dissenters." The Weekly Standard.
  32. Whitesides, J. (2009, November 4). "Democrats Wrestle With Abortion on Health Bill." Reuters.
    Soraghan, M. (2009, October 22). "Whip Count Shows Democrats Lack Votes on 'Robust' Public Option for Healthcare." The Hill.
  33. Jen.sen, K. & Litvan, L. (2009, November 2). "Senate, House Move Closer on Health Bills as Battle Goes Public." Bloomberg.
  34. (2009, November 6). "No Public Money for Abortion." The National Review.
  35. McCormack, J. (2009, November 5). "Pelosi Likely to Allow Vote on Phony Abortion Compromise Ellsworth Amendment (Update)." The Weekly Standard.
  36. Haberkorn, J. (2009, November 7). "Furious Scramble for Health Reform Support." The Washington Times.
    Allen, J. & Hooper, M. (2009, November 7). "Health Bill Reaches Moment of Truth." The Hill.
  37. Associated Press (2009, November 11). "Catholic Bishops Sway Health Care Fight." Retrieved from FOX News.
  38. Silva, C. (2009, November 23). "Abortion Amendment Threatens to Derail Health Reform." The American Medical Association.
    Duin, J. (2009, November 19). "Catholics Celebrate Their Stand on Health Bill." The Washington Times.
  39. Hooper, M. (2009, November 9). "House GOP Mulled 'Present' Strategy on Abortion Amendment." The Hill.
  40. (2009, November 9). "Republicans Question Abortion Agreement in Effort to Stop Health Care Momentum." FOX News.
  41. Phillips, K. (2009, November 7). "Rangel and Boehner Tangle Over Ethics and Abortion." The New York Times.
  42. Sullivan, Amy (2009, November 16). "Can Dems Resolve Their Abortion Split?" Time Magazine.
  43. Associated Press (2009, November 9). "House Passes Landmark Healthcare Bill." CBS News.
    Condon, S. (2009, November 16). "Health Care Progress Report: November 9." CBS News.
  44. Haberkorn, J. (2009, November 12). "Lone GOPer: Health Vote Could End Career." The Washington Times.
  45. Blake, A. (2009, November 10). "At-Risk Democrats Defend Their Tough Votes on Healthcare Reform Bill." The Hill.
  46. (2009, November 8). "Obama: Time For Senate to 'Take the Baton' on Health Care Reform." Healthcare Insurance. CNN.
  47. O'Brien, M. (2009, November 9). "Senior Democrat is 'Confident' that Stupak Amendment Will be Stripped." The Hill.
  48. 48.0 48.1 Thrush, G. (2009, November 17). "Abortion Causes Family Feud for Democrats." Politico.
    Halloran, L. (2009, November 10). "Democrats Face Backlash Over House Abortion Limits." NPR.
    Cooper, C. (2009, November 10). "The Left's Stupak Stupification." Coop's Corner. CBS News.
  49. Litvan, L & Rowley, Rowley, J. (2009, November 9). "Abortion Curbs Draw 40 Democrats' Threat of 'No' Vote (Update 1)." Bloomberg.
    Young, J. (2009, November 9). "Liberals Threaten to Oppose Healthcare Bill Over Stupak Abortion Amendment." The Hill.
    (2009, November 27). "Abortion's New Battleground." Newsweek Magazine.
  50. Jen.sen, K. & Litvan, L. (2009, November 10). "Abortion Issue Threatens Healthcare Overhaul Plan (Update 1)." Bloomberg.
    (2009, November 10). "Abortion Haggling Looms Over Health Care Debate in Senate." FOX News.
    Franke-Ruta, G. (2009, November 13). "A New Frontier in the Abortion Wars: Health Insurance." 44 - Politics and Policy. The Washington Post.
  51. Kirkpatrick, D. (2009, November 23). "Health Bill Revives Abortion Groups." The New York Times.
    (2009, November 27). "Abortion's New Battleground." Newsweek Magazine.
  52. Price, D. (2009, November 12). "Group Raises Cash, Will Take Stupak to Task." The Detroit News.
    Clift, E. (2009, November 12). "Both Parties Abandon Women's Rights." Newsweek.
  53. Depke, D. (2009, November 13). "Stupak Is as Stupak Does." Newsweek Magazine.
  54. (November 17, 2009). "Stupak: Health Care Bill Will Stall if White House Strips Abortion Restrictions." FOX News.
  55. Black, N. (2009, November 18). "Most Americans Against Abortion Coverage in Health Care Bill." The Christian Post.
  56. Bazinett, K. & McAuliff, M. (2009, November 19). "Senate Rolls Out $849 Billion Health Care Reform Bill; President Obama Urges Congress To Act Quickly. New York Daily News.
  57. Feldmann, L. (2009, December 9). "Nelson Amendment Fails, But Healthcare Abortion Battle Isn't Over." The Christian Post.
  58. 58.00 58.01 58.02 58.03 58.04 58.05 58.06 58.07 58.08 58.09 58.10 58.11 58.12 58.13 58.14 58.15 58.16 58.17 58.18 58.19 58.20 58.21 58.22 58.23 58.24 (2007, June 24). Thank You Congressman Stupak and Pro-Life Democrats.
  59. 59.0 59.1 59.2 59.3 59.4 59.5 Hess, A. (2006, November 14). Democrats For Life On The Job.
  60. 60.00 60.01 60.02 60.03 60.04 60.05 60.06 60.07 60.08 60.09 60.10 60.11 60.12 60.13 60.14 60.15 60.16 60.17 60.18 60.19 Offner, O. Pro-life Democrats Warn Pelosi over Health Care Bill.
  61. 61.00 61.01 61.02 61.03 61.04 61.05 61.06 61.07 61.08 61.09 61.10 61.11 61.12 61.13 61.14 61.15 61.16 61.17 61.18 61.19 61.20 61.21 61.22 61.23 61.24 61.25 61.26 61.27 61.28 DFLA All Stars (2004, November 23).
  62. 62.00 62.01 62.02 62.03 62.04 62.05 62.06 62.07 62.08 62.09 62.10 62.11 62.12 62.13 62.14 62.15 62.16 62.17 62.18 62.19 62.20 62.21 62.22 62.23 62.24 62.25 62.26 62.27 (2004, October). House of Representatives Voting Record 2003-2004. Democrats For Life of America, Inc.
  63. Ritchey, E. (2010, February 24). DFLA at the 2010 March for Life in Washington, D.C.
  64. Democrats For Life of America PAC
  65. OpenSecrets. Democrats For Life of America. PAC Fundraising/Spending by Cycle.