Democratic Party leaders met with pro-life Democrats this week to discuss how the party’s radical and out-of-touch stance on abortion is alienating voters.
Democrats for Life Executive Director Kristen Day said she and several other pro-life Democrats met with party chairman Tom Perez on Tuesday to urge the party to welcome pro-life candidates again. She said they also asked the party to back down on one of its most unpopular new platforms: support of taxpayer-funded abortions.
The Democratic Party has aligned itself closely with the abortion industry in the past few years. It once welcomed and supported pro-life candidates for office, but recently party leaders have made it clear that pro-life candidates are not welcome.
Earlier this year, amid pressure from abortion activists, Perez declared that abortion is a “fundamental value” in the Democratic Party and every Democrat should support it.
“Every Democrat, like every American, should support a woman’s right to make her own choices about her body and her health. That is not negotiable,” Perez said in a statement this spring.
Some described Perez’s statement as a “litmus test” for future Democratic candidates.
On Tuesday, Day and other pro-life Democrats urged the party to rethink its radical pro-abortion stance, the Catholic News Service reports. Day said she thought the meeting was a step in the right direction, but they have a lot of work to do.
The Democratic Party leaders issued a statement after the meeting, saying they remain committed to abortion but they do want to listen to different people’s opinions.
“Our party has always welcomed different opinions on several issues and Tom (Perez) is committed to listening to all Democrats as we work to rebuild our party,” said Xochitl Hinojosa, DNC communications director, in a statement. “Our party platform makes clear that Democrats trust women to make their own choices about their body and their health, and Tom [Perez] stands by this.”
Day told the Atlantic that they gave the DNC leaders a list of requests, including a public statement “explaining that the party does not support an abortion litmus test and pressuring people to change their position on life.” They also asked the party to reverse its new platform opposing the Hyde Amendment, which prevents taxpayer funding of abortion.
Struggling after heavy election losses in November, many in the party are debating whether to support pro-life Democratic candidates, especially in rural areas where voters tend to be more pro-life.
The debate erupted in the spring after abortion activists with NARAL criticized DNC Chair Perez, Sen. Bernie Sanders and others for supporting Heath Mello, a Nebraska Democratic mayoral candidate who has a pro-life voting record.
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“When a pro-life Democrat decides to run, the Democratic consultants come in and they tell you, ‘Well, you can’t run as a pro-life Democrat,’ and they urge you to change your position on life, like they did with Heath Mello,” Day said.
In early May, Mello lost the Omaha mayoral election when the DNC received criticism from NARAL Pro-Choice America for the DNC chairman’s support of pro-life Democrat Mello. This led to Mello making a statement that while he was pro-life, he would not vote as such, according to Day.
“That was such a mistake at the end of the campaign,” Day said. “To have a pro-life Democrat, and for him to go in right at the end of the campaign and say, ‘I’m pro-life, but I’m not going to vote that way. That was a huge tactical error.”
Day said Democrats for Life will continue to pursue discussions with party leaders about including pro-lifers in the party.
On Wednesday, Democrats for Life board member Charles Camosy wrote at Crux that the Democratic Party needs to stop aligning itself with radical pro-abortion ideologies if it wants to win elections again.
“[T]he Democratic Party needs to fundamentally rethink its relationship with NARAL-style abortion orthodoxy,” Camosy wrote. “It has killed the party in the past, it is killing the party today, and spells doom for the party’s future with young people as well.”
Democrats for Life estimates more than 23 million Democrats in the U.S. are pro-life.
Last year, Pew Research found that 28 percent of Democrats say abortion should be illegal in most or all cases. Marist/KofC polling also found that 23 percent of Democrats consider themselves pro-life. In opposition to most Americans’ beliefs about abortion, the Democratic Party platform supports abortion for any reason up to birth and taxpayer funding for all abortions.