Pro-life Democrats working to reduce the nation's abortion rate say it's time Democrats helped women find alternatives to abortion.

"A lot of people think the Democratic Party is the party of abortion on demand. We need to change that," said Kristen Day, executive director of the Washington, D.C.-based Democrats for Life of America (dfla). In April the group launched the "95-10 Initiative," a legislative effort to reduce the number of abortions by 95 percent in 10 years. There are about 1.3 million abortions nationwide annually, according to the Alan Guttmacher Institute, a Planned Parenthood affiliate.

"Through this initiative we're showing that we care about women, babies, and human life," Day said.

Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, plans to introduce a version of the initiative this summer. Among its objectives are making adoption tax credits permanent, providing federal grants to colleges and universities to support pregnant women, mandating insurance coverage of certain contraceptives, and requiring federally funded women's health centers to provide information on adoptions and on abortion, including its negative side effects. It also would increase funding for the federal nutrition program Women, Infants, and Children.

The effort, he said, is designed to allow both parties to work together to offer the kind of hopeful support and alternatives struggling pregnant women need to take care of their babies.

But some Republicans are not convinced.

"There are certainly provisions in this bill I would not consider to be pro-life at all," said a Republican senatorial aide who spoke on condition of anonymity. "Unfortunately, some of these measures would be difficult to support." These include funding sex education in schools and requiring insurance providers to cover FDA-approved contraceptives.

An aide to Ryan said such coverage would not include "abortion pill" RU-486 or any other abortion-inducing drug.

DFLA estimates 40 percent of Democrats are pro-life. National party leaders have signaled a new willingness to talk about pro-life issues in the wake of the November elections.

Day said, "I think there's been a tremendous turnaround as far as a willingness to include pro-lifers in the party."

Related Elsewhere:

Last year, CT interviewed Kristen Day, executive director of Democrats for Life.

Democrats for Life has more information about the 95-10 Initiative.

More on abortion from our Politics & Law page includes:

How Serious Are Democrats? | Making abortion rare will take more than words. A Christianity Today editorial (March 16, 2005)
Medical-Record War Heats Up | Two Kansas abortion clinics refuse to comply with court order. (April 19, 2005)
Jim Wallis: 'I See Genuine Soul-Searching Among Democrats' | Evangelical activist says it's time to find common ground on abortion and other issues. (Feb. 11, 2005)
Evangelicals' Political Power: From Question Mark to Exclamation Mark | Activists say same-sex marriage ban, abortion limits, and judicial appointments top agenda. (Nov. 04, 2004)

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