Prolife Democrats

An oxymoron?


Paul Wellstone was my friend and mentor, but he was not my candidate in Minnesota’s 2002 senatorial campaign that brought about his tragic death. I supported Norm Coleman, an erstwhile Democrat who had been driven out of the party because he’s prolife. Coleman ultimately was elected in a close race with Wellstone’s successor, former Vice President Walter Mondale. Mondale aggressively championed abortion rights, and Coleman won with heavy and highly visible Catholic support. "Catholics for Coleman" signs were prominently featured in the campaign. In recent election cycles, polls have shown Catholic voters frequently migrating from their traditional Democratic allegiance to cast Republican votes. The trend is not driven by a loss of Catholic social-justice concerns. It has everything to do with abortion-rights absolutism in the Democratic Party. I’m a representative Catholic voter who exemplifies this trend. I was a student in the first political science classes that Paul Wellstone ever taught at Carleton College. I enjoyed hours of competition with Paul in the Carleton wrestling room (he had been an outstanding college wrestler, and I was the captain of Carleton’s team). Paul’s eloquent social-justice advocacy influenced me to join the McGovern presidential campaign and later to serve as a VISTA lawyer after graduation from Harvard Law School. For nearly three decades, I described myself as a prolife Democrat. I...

To read the rest of this article please login or become a subscriber.

About the Author

John D. Hagen Jr. practices law in Minneapolis.