Joe Biden and his party platform support late-term abortion funded by American taxpayers, but that position went unmentioned at the Democratic National Convention—a stark contrast to the pro-life speakers who will feature heavily at President Trump's Republican National Convention renomination.
The Democratic 2020 platform calls for federal funding for Planned Parenthood, overturning state laws restricting abortion access, repealing the Hyde Amendment, and codifying Roe v. Wade. Nearly one-half of U.S. adults told Gallup that they consider abortion an important factor in their voting. The Hyde Amendment, which prohibits the use of federal taxpayer money for abortion, has consistently enjoyed widespread support, but self-identified Democrats are split on the issue of federal funding of abortion.
Kristen Day, executive director of Democrats for Life of America, said she understands why Biden, who previously opposed taxpayer funding, avoided discussing party positions that even pro-choice voters reject.
"The extreme position that they've been really pushing is not popular with mainstream America. And so they have to downplay their extremism if they want to win," Day told the Washington Free Beacon. "Joe Biden used to be pro-life—he used to believe that pre-born life deserved support just as babies born alive. ... Obviously the campaign is taking note too that the extreme position is going to hurt his campaign."
While Democrats were largely silent on the issue during their primetime addresses to the nation, the Trump campaign has embraced the issue. The Republican National Convention will feature Abby Johnson, a former Planned Parenthood executive turned pro-life activist, and other abortion opponents.
"Abortion extremism is a losing issue for Democrats and they appear to know it: Not one speaker uttered the word 'abortion' during last week's Democratic National Convention," Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List, told the Free Beacon. "[Johnson's] powerful story of speaking out against the abortion lobby complements the unprecedented policy accomplishments made by the Trump-Pence administration on this issue."
Hillary Clinton's support for abortion played a central role in the 2016 DNC. Then-Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards gave a primetime address. The president of NARAL Pro-Choice America also addressed the convention and drew praise for her personal story of getting an abortion. By contrast, Father James G. Martin S.J. included prayers for "the unborn child in the womb" as part of his benediction at the conclusion of the 2020 DNC.
Conservative interest groups also criticized the Democratic Party's platform and called on the Trump campaign to put the issue front and center even as it was announced that the GOP would not release a platform for the election. Terry Schilling, executive director of the American Principles Project, said even without an official platform, Trump should make clear that Biden and his platform do not represent "mainstream positions."
"President Trump and Republicans would be smart to drive this message home in the weeks ahead," he said.
While the American public is conflicted on abortion, specific planks of the Democratic Party's platform, such as repealing the Hyde Amendment, are out of step with opinion polling. Biden reversed his long-standing support for the amendment at the beginning of his presidential bid, along with several other primary contestants.
Day said that the Democratic Party's stance on abortion is inconsistent with its other commitments to marginalized groups.
"It's just so inconsistent to say that we want to protect immigrants at the border, people from gun violence, all these areas where the Democratic Party supports human rights, violence against the LGBT community," Day said. "Then we look at this innocent little baby in the womb and we advocate for killing it. It's just completely inconsistent with the Democratic Party's positions on all other issues when we talk about protecting the vulnerable."
Planned Parenthood did not respond to a request for comment.
As the RNC highlights the issue, the Trump administration is also partnering closely with the pro-life movement in the closing weeks of the election. Vice President Mike Pence and former press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders wrote introductions for Dannenfelser's new book, Life is Winning, which will be released amid the RNC.