Pro-life Democrats received a lifeline last week, but their future in the party remains uncertain.
Rep. Ben Ray Luján, D-N.M., Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman, told The Hill Democrats would not withhold campaign funds from pro-life candidates.
Luján’s comments were significant for the few pro-life Democrats left seeking office but also presented a rift in the so-called “big tent party.”
Earlier this year, Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez said being pro-abortion was nonnegotiable for Democrats. Perez’s comments put other party leaders in a difficult spot. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and her Senate counterpart Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., are both pro-abortion but refused to say that’s a litmus test for everyone in the party.
Outnumbered in both chambers of Congress, Democrats are trying to appeal to a broader audience in the knowledge that winning office takes a different game plan in Arkansas than in California.
California Gov. Scott Brown, a Democrat, told MSNBC this week that being pro-abortion is not what should unify the party. He said there used to be many pro-life Catholic Democratic politicians, “so the fact that somebody believes today what most people believed 50 years ago should not be the basis for their exclusion.”
Today, most Democrats identify as pro-abortion, but nuance remains. The majority of Americans do not support unrestricted abortion access, and 58 percent of Democrats endorse restricting abortion to, at most, the first three months of pregnancy, according to a Marist poll. A Gallup survey said as many as 32 percent of Democrats identify as pro-life.
But some Democrats choose to ignore that branch of the party.
A collection of pro-abortion activist groups, including NARAL Pro-Choice America, Planned Parenthood, and Democracy for America, put out a statement of principles rejecting Luján’s invitation to pro-life candidates.
“Abortion rights are inextricably tied to the fight against economic and racial inequity, full stop, and until all leaders of our party fully understand that we’re going to keep losing,” said Charles Chamberlain, executive director of Democracy for America.
Marjorie Dannenfelser, Susan B. Anthony List president, said Luján’s comments and subsequent backlash from liberal groups revealed an identity crisis for Democrats.
“While abortion lobby leaders are beside themselves over the mere suggestion that a pro-life Democrat be permitted to run, clearly, some within the party are starting to recognize the vulnerability here,” she said in a statement. “Democrats’ extreme pro-abortion platform has lost more votes than it has gained and led to defeat in the last two election cycles.”
Pro-life lawmakers exist among Democrats, and more want to join the fold.
Democratic Reps. Dan Lipinski of Illinois and Jim Langevin of Rhode Island remain active members of the Congressional Pro-Life Caucus. Sens. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., Bob Casey, D-Pa., and Joe Manchin, D-W.V., have all supported pro-life legislation in the past. And Paul Spencer, a pro-life Democratic candidate, is running to represent Arkansas’ 2nd Congressional District in 2018.
“The abortion debate is polarized and often extremely bitter,” Kristen Day, executive director of Democrats For Life of America, wrote in The Washington Post last week. “[But Luján’s] rightly observing that Democrats—real, bona fide Democrats—do have a range of views on abortion, and to win as many elections as possible, the party has to recognize that.”
Courtesy: WORLD News Service
Photo courtesy: Thinkstockphotos.com
Publication date: August 11, 2017