As anti-abortion protesters gathered on the 16th Street Mall, toting sensational signs and gory photos, spawning another day of tense shouting matches, several “pro-life” Democratic lawmakers gathered in the tranquil confines of a hotel meeting room to say they knew how to heal this seemingly permanent American political rift. Their fellow Democrats, they said, ought to stand in “solidarity” with pregnant women. “And we’re not doing that right now,” U.S. Senator Bob Casey Jr., of Tennessee, told a crowd at downtown’s Hotel Monaco Wednesday afternoon. He called for action, including a generous expansion of health care programs, to cut the number of abortions (forget Roe v. Wade for a moment). Dems, of course, have a history of supporting a woman’s right to decide on abortion, including presidential nominee Senator Barack Obama and his running mate, Senator Joe Biden–just as Republicans have solid backing from “pro-life” values voters. But Bob Tuke, a U.S. Senate candidate in Tennessee, accuses Republicans of using the abortion issue as a hollow “wedge” to score “political points.” He joined with his fellow lawmakers, all members of Democrats for Life of America, an organization formed during the first term of President George W. Bush, to express disappointment that this year’s Democratic platform did not include language respecting differences of opinion when it comes to abortion.

Highlighting a theme sure to come up as the presidential race hits full speed in coming weeks, the group says Republicans are able to claim the moral high ground but that it is undeserved. Republican morality often ends with the debate over choice, they say. As such, pregnant women, particularly those in poverty, often wind up feeling isolated, confused, and unsupported. Casey noted that Republicans supported $51 billion in tax cuts and then turned a deaf ear to the needs of women and children, citing budgetary concerns: “If we believe what we say, we will come up with the money.”