Sargent Shriver, one of the leading pro-life Democrats in America, passed away on Tuesday at the age of 95 after battling Alzheimer’s.
Shriver was the first director of the Peace Corps and was the vice-presidential candidate on the ticket with George McGovern in 1972. He was the only pro-life Democrat on the presidential ticket in modern times, as LifeNews reports.
His wife Eunice Kennedy, who passed away in 2009, was the sister of the late John F. Kennedy. Their daughter, Maria Kennedy Shriver, is the former first lady of California, the wife of former governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Sargent and Eunice were known for their pro-life activism despite the political positions of Kennedy officeholders, like the late Sen. Ted Kennedy.
Sargent, a devout Roman Catholic who attended daily mass, opposed legalized abortion his entire life. In 1992, he published a statement in the New York Times, reading in part “To establish justice and to promote the general welfare, America does not need the abortion license. What America needs are policies that responsibly protect and advance the interest of mothers and their children, both before and after birth.”
After the decision in Roe v. Wade, Shriver wrote to the National Catholic Register, saying “the decision of the U.S. Supreme Court known as Roe v. Wade has gone down and will continue in an increasingly powerful downward slide.”
Sargent helped his wife Eunice with the Special Olympics, for which she was a tireless advocate. In 2000, he remarked:
“I began to see that [the mentally disabled] had some attributes I didn’t have. What I learned most from them was the meaning of the word ‘love.’ When you see someone who is mentally retarded express love, it is genuine love; there is no guile. It is pure, as God intended.”
Sargent was always proud of his wife and her pro-life advocacy. Serrin Foster, director of Feminists for Life (FFL), recalled how proud Sargent was when Eunice was named a Remarkable Pro-Life Woman in The American Feminist publication by FFL.
“Sargent Shriver phoned the office and asked us to send over a stack of copies for his family and friends,” Foster says. “He was very proud of his wife’s many contributions, and was really delighted that we recognized her in this meaningful way.”
Sargent was also a decorated war veteran, having served in World War II despite his opposition to the war. He received a Purple Heart after receiving wounds as a navy gunner at Guadalcanal.
As noted by the Associated Press, Shriver was a man of morals among his Kennedy in-laws:
“In public, Shriver spoke warmly of his famous in-laws, but the private relationship was often tense. As noted in Scott Stossel’s ‘Sarge,’ an authorized 2004 biography, he was a faithful man amid a clan of womanizers, a sometimes giddy idealist labeled “the house Communist” by the family.”
Sargent Shriver was an honorable man and public servant who will be dearly missed by pro-lifers, especially pro-life Democrats who are constantly at odds with their party leaders. Along with Eunice, he led a life caring for the helpless and advocating for those without voices, from the unborn to the mentally disabled.
Rest in peace, Sargent Shriver.