Pro-Life Democrat Gov. Edwards: ‘We Like to Say We’re a Big Tent Party But the Platform Is Getting Smaller and Smaller’

By Lauretta Brown | July 28, 2016 | 12:37pm EDT

Louisiana's Democrat Governor

John Bel Edwards.

(Screenshot: NBC)

( – Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) spoke with on Wednesday at a Democrats for Life Event in Philadelphia. He said he was “troubled” by the changes in the party’s platform that advocate for the repeal of the Hyde Amendment, which currently prohibits federal funding for abortion.

“We like to say we’re a big tent party but the platform is getting smaller and smaller,” he said.

“The good news is I think the platform goes way further than the nation is going to go in that regard and, by the way, both party platforms on a number of issues are just going further left or further right, and that’s not where the American people are at on a whole range of issues,” Gov. Edwards said of the party platform’s plank advocating the repeal of the Hyde Amendment and it’s advocacy for Planned Parenthood.

The Hyde Amendment, adopted as a legislative “rider” in 1976, says that no federal funds can be used to pay for abortion except in the cases of rape, incest, or to save the life of the mother.

“While I’m troubled by the platform, I’ve never been one to honor that particular plank [on abortion] in our platform anyway, so I think we can do better and we’re going to do better,” Edwards added. “I think we’re going to have to. But I don’t want to pretend that I’m just overly troubled by the change in the platform. It makes it harder. As I said a while ago, we are a big tent party.”

Edwards reflected that being a pro-life Democrat is “not difficult in Louisiana like it would be in some other places.”

He added that he encourages “people with similar views because I know that there are folks like me all across the country. I would just encourage them to become part of the party and become part of the solution, seek elected office so that collectively we can change the Democratic Party on this issue.”

Edwards emphasized that “being pro-life is more than just being anti-abortion and on a whole range of issues important to life, Democrats have it right.”

“I think we’ve got some work to do on the abortion part in terms of being a more tolerant party with a bigger platform but on a whole number of issues we’ve got it right,” he said.

Edwards added that his Catholic faith is the biggest part of his career.

“My mother and father raised all eight of their children to be Catholic,” he said.  “I’m a cradle Catholic, my wife is a convert, and we pray together every day, to start the day and to finish the day.”

“It’s important for us not just to pray in quiet but to allow those values to dictate the way we live our lives -- and now as a governor and before as a legislator to actually turn that into action, and so it’s very important,” Edwards concluded.

Gov. Edwards spoke with following his reception of the "Governor Casey Whole Life Leadership" award from Democrats for Life of America in recognition of his pro-life efforts.

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