Mayor Thomas Koch leaves Democratic Party over pro-abortion policy

The mayor of Quincy, Massachusetts, is no longer aligned with the Democratic Party. Thomas Koch dropped his support for the group he had been with since he was 18 years old because of its pro-abortion policy.

An activist holds a rosary while ralling against abortion outside City Hall in Los Angeles, California September 29, 2015. | REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni

Koch, now 55, changed his party registration shortly after Democratic National Committee chairman Tom Perez said in a speech that pro-life supporters had no place among Democrats. The former told the press on Wednesday that the chairman's message was "the last straw."

"The party platform is so far left on abortion it's sickening," the mayor said.

Koch, a Catholic, reflected on a similar experience that his father, Richard, had with then-Sen. Edward M. Kennedy years ago. When the senator campaigned for pro-choice, the older Koch slowly moved away from working for Kennedy's team.

The mayor also recalled that the abortion issue became a big deal in his family during the Roe vs. Wade landmark case of 1973, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled for women's right to have an abortion. Koch had been only 10 years old at the time but he understood his family's convictions against abortion.

"I'm certainly a believer in life starts at conception," Koch said.

The state of Massachusetts considers abortion as legal for up to 24 weeks of pregnancy or in special medical cases that threatens the life of the mother. The Democratic Party underscored its support for abortion at any time during the pregnancy, including near the baby's full term, in its 2016 platform.

There are currently 22,569 registered Democrats in Quincy. A political science analyst, however, believes Koch will not lose support if he runs in the next elections.

"He's kind of safely occupied a middle ground in Massachusetts politics," Professor Peter Ubertaccio said. "I don't think most people in Quincy are going to bat an eyelash."

It is said that voters in Quincy are usually nonpartisan, and despite leaving the Democratic Party, Koch still supports Democratic U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch in Congress.

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