The Democratic Party chairman made it clear late last week that pro-lifers are not welcome in his party anymore.
DNC Chair Tom Perez described abortion as a “fundamental value” Friday in response to a backlash from abortion activists, according to the Daily Caller. The pro-abortion group NARAL attacked DNC leaders last week for supporting a candidate with a pro-life voting record.
“Every Democrat, like every American, should support a woman’s right to make her own choices about her body and her health,” Perez said Friday in a statement. “That is not negotiable and should not change city by city or state by state. That is why I will be convening women leaders from across the country in the next week on how we can make sure our Democratic candidates and elected leaders are living up to these fundamental values.”
The Democratic Party has not always been so extreme on abortion. The party, which prides itself in fighting for the vulnerable, once welcomed strong pro-life politicians who fought for the rights of unborn babies. Recently, however, it has been increasingly aligning itself with the abortion industry.
Last year, the DNC adopted a platform calling for taxpayers to fund abortions and support Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider. Just a few pro-life Democrats remain in office.
The most recent uproar began with Heath Mello, a Democratic mayoral candidate in Omaha, Nebraska. As a state legislator, Mello supported several pro-life measures, including a bill to require that abortion facilities inform women of their right to request an ultrasound and a 20-week abortion ban.
Last week, several Democratic leaders, including former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, supported Mello at a sold-out “unity tour.” But when abortion activists found out that Mello has a pro-life voting record, they slammed him and the DNC.
“The actions today by the DNC to embrace and support a candidate for office who will strip women — one of the most critical constituencies for the party — of our basic rights [abortion] and freedom is not only disappointing, it is politically stupid,” NARAL President Ilyse Hogue said in a statement.
Mello quickly backtracked on his pro-life position.
Claiming that he remains “personally pro-life,” Mello told The Huffington Post Thursday that he will “never do anything to restrict access to reproductive health care,” including abortions.
On Friday, Perez called Mello’s flip-flop “promising,” and urged all Democrats running for office to support abortion.
“It is a promising step that Mello now shares the Democratic Party’s position on women’s fundamental rights,” Perez said. “Every candidate who runs as a Democrat should do the same … Period.”
A few leading Democrats contradicted Perez, including Sanders and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. Both Sanders and Pelosi strongly support the party’s pro-abortion position, but they also told news outlets this week that Democrats can be pro-life.
“The truth is that in some conservative states there will be candidates that are popular candidates who may not agree with me on every issue. I understand it. That’s what politics is about,” Sanders told NPR on Thursday.
Meanwhile, Illinois U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin backed up Perez, saying Democratic candidates must support Roe v. Wade and abortion, CNN reports.
The party’s allegiance to the abortion industry could hurt it even more as it continues to struggle with major losses in the November election.
Last summer, Democrats for Life Director Kristen Day said the party is potentially losing voters because it has shut out pro-life Democrats. Democrats for Life has been urging the party to “open the big tent” to pro-life Democrats. They estimate more than 23 million Democrats in the U.S. are pro-life.
According to The Daily Caller:
Pew Research Center found last year that 28 percent of Democrats say abortion should be illegal in most or all cases. Hispanic voters — a key voting bloc for the Democratic party — are deeply divided on the subject of abortion. Pew found that 49 percent of Hispanics say abortion should be illegal in most or all cases, while 48 percent say it should be legal in most or all cases.