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The Democrats Are the True Pro-Life Party

11/05/2012 11:46 pm ET | Updated Jan 23, 2014
  • Robbie Gennet Writer of words and music, rider of waves, author, educator and world traveler.

This election, the stakes are higher than ever and I'd like to encourage you to vote pro-life: vote for Democrats. Confused? Well, if your definition of "life" doesn't include the period between birth and death, you are missing out on a large part of it; some would argue, the largest. And when you include the entire post-birth period in your definition and look at which government programs, acts and laws have most helped increase the quality of life for the most people, the Democratic Party is overwhelmingly responsible for almost all of the positives. Whether regulating banks, creating a social safety net for our elders, taking care of veterans or passing civil rights legislation, the Democratic Party has been responsible for doing the most good for the most peoples lives, hence being truly "pro-life." And the Republican Party has fought hard against them almost every time.

With this redefinition of what it means to be pro-life, I compiled a list of life-improving programs that were fought for and won by the efforts of Democrats. While researching this, I was struck by the legacy of Lyndon Johnson, who really enacted so many important social reforms and public safety laws in his time. Johnson's Great Society plan had roots in both John F. Kennedy's New Frontier and further back, FDR's New Deal. But under Johnson, the Civil Rights struggle came to a head and the social safety net as we know it was solidified.

Going back as far as FDR and his efforts in the wake of the Great Depression, it wasn't hard to identify the bills and acts that have made the most difference in their time and since their passage. Most of the acts below were signed into law by a Democratic president. But because a president is only as capable as the bills that Congress passes, I included a few programs passed by a solidly Democratic Congress under Republican presidents, notably Eisenhower, Nixon, Ford and the first Bush. Though I could have truncated the list to a "greatest hits" for sake of space, I felt the length of the list and the scope of these acts supports the pro-life credibility of Democrats. Each act has enhanced the lives of Americans, as have important amendments too numerous to add here. I provided some notes where necessary, but I encourage you to look into any of these bills and consider their impact.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1933-1945 Democrat):

Securities Act (1933) - established the SEC
Glass-Steagall Act (1933) - established FDIC
Repealed Alcohol Prohibition (1933)
Federal Emergency Relief Act (1933) - established FERA to develop public works projects for the unemployed
Citizens Conservation Corps Reforestation Relief Act (1933) - established the CCC to combat unemployment and poverty
National Labor Relations Act (1935)
Emergency Relief Appropriation Act (1935) - created the Works Progress Administration (WPA), a large-scale public works program for the jobless
Social Security Act (1935) - established early stages of Social Security
Motor Carrier Act (1935) - amended the Interstate Commerce Act to regulate buses and trucks as well as railroads for safety
Rural Electrification Act (1936)
Flood Control Act (1936) - authorized Army Corps of Engineers for civil engineering projects
Housing Act (1937)
National Cancer Institute Act (1937)
Established the National Foundation for Infantile Paralysis, later known as the March of Dimes (1938)
Fair Labor Standards Act (1938) - established minimum wage and overtime, banned child labor
Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (1938)
Civil Aeronautics Act (1938) - created Civil Aeronautics Authority (CAA), precursor to Federal Aviation Agency (FAA)
Established the United Service Organization (USO) in 1941.
Federal law declares all persons born thereafter in Puerto Rico to be U.S. citizens by birth (1941)
Flood Control Act (1944) - helped construct dams with a focus on hydropower, recreation, navigation, water supply, flood control and fish/wildlife
Servicemen's Readjustment Act a.k.a. The G.I. Bill (1944)
Veteran's Preference Act (1944) - required the Federal Government to favor hiring returning war veterans
Public Health Service Act (1944)

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Harry Truman (1945-1953 Democrat):
National Mental Health Act (1946) - established National Institute of Mental Health
Hospital Survey and Construction Act (1946) - to provide more beds per person in hospitals
National School Lunch Act (1946)
Commission on Higher Education (1946)
Federal Water Pollution Control Act (1948)
National Heart Act (1948)
National Dental Research Act (1948)
Established the Addiction Research Center (1948)
President Truman signs Executive Order 9981, ending racial segregation in the United States Armed Forces. (1948)
National Science Foundation Act (1950)
Omnibus Medical Research Act (1950) - established National Institutes for research on a host of diseases and disorders
Immigration and Nationality Act (1952)
Veterans Adjustment Act (1952)

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Dwight D. Eisenhower (1955-1961 Republican with Democratic Congress):
Polio Vaccination Act (1955)
Air Pollution Control Act (1955)
Federal Aid Highway Act (1956) - constructed 41,000 miles of interstate highway, the largest public works project in American history up to that point

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John F. Kennedy (1961-1963 Democrat):
Peace Corps Act (1961)
Community Health Services and Facilities Act (1961) - expanded nursing homes and elderly care
Mutual Educational and Cultural Exchange Act a.k.a. Fulbright-Hays Act (1961)
Manpower Development and Training Act (1962) - retrained workers displaced by new technology
Health Services for Agricultural Migratory Workers Act (1962)
Vaccination Assistance Act (1962)
Library Services and Construction Act (1962)
Mental Retardation Facilities and Community Mental Health Centers Construction Act (1963)
Equal Pay Act (1963)
Established the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (1962)
Established the National Institute of General Medical Sciences in (1962)

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Lyndon B. Johnson (1963-1969 Democrat):
The Clean Air Act (1963)
Economic Opportunity Act (1964) - founded Head Start and Job Corps
Wilderness Act (1964) - created the legal definition of wilderness and protected about 9 million acres of federal land
Food Stamp Act (1964)
Urban Mass Transportation Act (1964)
Civil Rights Act (1964)
Voting Rights Act (1965)
Social Security Act (1965) - established Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid
Housing and Urban Development Act (1965)
Elementary and Secondary Education Act (1965) - further established Head Start
Higher Education Act (1965)
Immigration and Nationality Act (1965)
Established National Endowment for the Arts (1965)
Established National Endowment for the Humanities (1965)
Motor Vehicle Air Pollution and Control Act (1965)
Federal Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act (1965)
Highway Beautification Act (1965) - helped curtail unsightly billboards and advertising on federal highways
Comprehensive Health, Planning and Service Act (1966)
Child Nutrition Act (1966) - established National School Breakfast Program
Established the U.S. Department of Transportation (1966)
Established the Environmental Science Services Administration (1966) - precursor to the NOAA
National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act (1966)
Freedom of Information Act (1966)
Cuban Refugee Adjustment Act (1966)
Public Broadcasting Act (1967) - started PBS and NPR
Age Discrimination in Employment Act (1967)
National Park Foundation Act (1967)
Indian Civil Rights Act (1968)
Bilingual Education Act (1968)
National Wild and Scenic Rivers Act (1968)
National Trails System Act (1968)
Gun Control Act (1968)
Established National Eye Institute (1968)

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Richard Nixon (1969-1974 Republican with Democratic Congress):
Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act (1969)
Established National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (1969)
Family Planning Services and Population Research Act (1970) - established Title X
Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) (1970)
Housing and Urban Development Act (1970)
National Environmental Policy Act (1970)
Environmental Quality Improvement Act (1970)
Lead-Based Paint Poisoning Prevention Act (1971)
National Cancer Act (1971)
Equal Employment Opportunity Act (1972)
Consumer Product Safety Act (1972)
Title IX Education Amendment (1972) - combats discrimination against women
Endangered Species Act (1973)
Established the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) (1970)
Established the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) (1970)
Established the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism in (1970)
Established the National Institute on Drug Abuse (1973)

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Gerald Ford (1974-1977 Republican with Democratic Congress):
Safe Drinking Water Act (1974)
Privacy Act (1974)
Government in the Sunshine Act (1976)
National Forest Management Act (1976)
Established the National Institute on Aging (1974)

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Jimmy Carter (1977-1981 Democrat):
Clean Water Act (1977)
Drug Abuse Prevention, Treatment and Rehabilitation Act (1978)
Pregnancy Discrimination Act (1978)
National Energy Conservation Policy Act (1978)
Department of Education Organization Act (1979)
Deregulation of Beer Industry (1979) - legalized home brewing for the first time since Prohibition
Energy Security Act (1980)

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Ronald Reagan (1987-1989 Republican with Democratic Congress):
Homeless Assistance Act (1987) - provided federal money for homeless shelter programs
Civil Liberties Act (1988) - granted reparations to Japanese-Americans who had been interned by the U.S. government during World War II

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George H.W. Bush (1989-1993 Republican with Democratic Congress):
Whistleblower Protection Act (1989)
Americans with Disabilities Act (1990)
Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (1990)
Immigration Act (1990)
Civil Rights Act (1991)
Oil Pollution Act (1990) - increased oil company liability in the wake of the Exxon Valdez crash

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Bill Clinton (1993-2001 Democrat):
Family and Medical Leave Act (1993)
Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act (1993)
National Voter Registration Act (1993)
Established the National Center on Sleep Disorders Research, the Office of Alternative Medicine, Office of Research on Women's Health, Office of Research on Minority Health, Office of AIDS Research and the National Center for Human Genome Research, among others (1993)
Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act (1994)
Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (1996)
Mental Health Parity Act (1996)
Electronic Freedom of Information Act (1996)
State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) (1997)
The Next Generation Internet Research Act (1998)
Federal Financial Assistance Management Improvement Act (1999)
Newborn and Infant Screening and Intervention Act (1999)
Children's Health Act (2000)
Needlestick Safety and Prevention Act (2000)
Older Americans Act (2000)
Public Health Improvement Act (2000)
Minority Health and Health Disparities Research and Education Act (2000)
Established The National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (2000)

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George W. Bush (2007-2009 Republican with Democratic Congress):
Fair Minimum Wage Act (2007) - raised the minimum wage from $5.15 per hour to $7.25 per hour
Implementing Recommendations of the 9/11 Commission Act (2007)
Energy Independence and Security Act (2007) - improved biofuel production, set new efficiency standards for cars, appliances and lighting
Housing and Economic Recovery Act (2008) - to address the subprime mortgage crises
Economic Stimulus Act (2008)
Food, Conservation, and Energy Act (2008) - increased budget for the Food Stamp Program, Emergency Food Assistance Program, school nutrition programs, food banks and soup kitchens
Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (2007)
Post-9/11Veterans Educational Assistance Act (2008)
Energy Improvement and Extension Act (2008) - tax credits for hybrid cars, also extends tax credits for renewable energy initiatives
Tax Extenders and Alternative Minimum Tax Relief Act (2008) - keeps the alternative minimum tax, provides disaster relief for victims of natural disasters, gives tax breaks to businesses and middle class families
Emergency Economic Stabilization Act (2008) - included the TARP bailout of our financial system to save Americans pensions and retirement funds from certain doom
Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (2008) - mandates parity of health insurance coverage for psychological disorders, alcoholism and drug addiction
Prenatally and Postnatally Diagnosed Conditions Awareness Act (2008)
Comprehensive Tuberculosis Elimination Act (2008)
Breast Cancer and the Environment Act (2008)
Conquer Childhood Cancer Act (2008)
Traumatic Brain Injury Act (2008)

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Barack Obama (2009-2012 Democrat):
Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act (2009)
Serve America Act (2009)
Matthew Shepard Act (2009)
American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (2009) - to stimulate the economy and prevent an economic depression
Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of (2009) - a.k.a. Obamacare
Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act (2009) - improved enforcement of mortgage fraud, securities fraud and other frauds related to federal assistance and relief programs
Helping Families Save Their Homes Act (2009)
Credit CARD Act (2009)
‪Worker, Homeownership, and Business Assistance Act (2009‬) - extended unemployment benefits & tax credit for new homeowners
Car Allowance Rebate System a.k.a. Cash for Clunkers (2009)
Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act (2009)
Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (2010) - created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau among other things
Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act (2010) - includes the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act
Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act (2010)
Don't Ask, Don't Tell Repeal Act (2010)
Fair Sentencing Act (2010) - reduced the sentencing disparity between cocaine and crack cocaine
Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization and Job Creation Act (2010)
Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment Act (2010)
Claims Resolution Act (2010) - settlements to farmers who had been discriminated against by the Department of Agriculture
Small Business Jobs Act (2010) - created the Small Business Lending Fund Program to increase credit for small businesses
Established the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (2010)
Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act (2010)
9/11 Health and Compensation Act (2010) - provided health care for people who worked in response and recovery operations as well as survivors of the 9/11 attacks
Food Safety and Modernization Act (2011)
America Invents Act (2011) - the most significant change to the U.S. patent system since 1952
Middle Class Tax Relief and Job Creation Act (2012) - extended unemployment benefits and the Social Security payroll tax cut
Honoring America's Veterans and Caring for Camp Lejeune Families Act (2012) - one of the most comprehensive laws ever enacted intended to help U.S. veterans deal with their problems

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Examining all of these Acts, I wonder how much more President Obama could have done over these last four years without Republican obstructionists in Congress. Had Congress passed productive bills helping create jobs and fix our economy, we would have already been far better off than we are now. Obama's policies had the potential to help a lot of people and drop unemployment, but they were blocked for political gains so Republicans could crow about how the presidents policies are not working. You cannot attack our presidents policies unless you pass them and let them sink or swim in our free market economy. You cannot fairly judge a policy on its merits if you have blocked it or obstructed it from action. If only we had more public outrage and pressure against obstructionism and filibuster abuse, we might not be in this mess. Which is why I encourage you to vote pro-life this election and vote Democratic across the board!

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