Eunice Kennedy Shriver died less than two weeks before her brother Edward, beginning a month of tributes to the Catholic left’s first family that reached a crescendo when Senator Kennedy was laid to rest. But there was a difference between the two Kennedy siblings that was seldom mentioned in the encomiums: Mrs. Shriver’s Catholic liberalism did not always subordinate her Catholicism to her liberalism.
Consider abortion. Eunice Kennedy married Robert Sargent Shriver, Jr., who in 1972 was the last pro-life candidate to grace a national Democratic ticket. Their partisan and family loyalties sometimes led them to support pro-abortion politicians like son-in-law Arnold Schwarzenegger and a certain candidate of “acid, amnesty, and abortion.” Yet starting with the “One Million for Life” campaign to recruit one million adoptive parents, they both continued actively to oppose abortion throughout their lives.
In 1992, the Shrivers joined with Pennsylvania Gov. Bob Casey in the last serious effort to nudge the Democratic Party away from pro-abortion extremism. They signed a statement urging their party’s convention to adopt “a new understanding” of the issue, “one that does not pit mother against child” but pursues “policies that responsibly protect and advance the interest of mothers and their children, both before and after birth.”