Democrats dif­fer on anti-abor­tion can­di­dates

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

WASH­ING­TON: The pro­posal seemed mod­est in today’s po­lar­ized po­lit­i­cal cli­mate: The head of the Demo­cratic Con­gres­sional Cam­paign Com­mit­tee sug­gested his group might help fund can­di­dates who didn’t share the party’s sup­port for abor­tion rights. The back­lash from abor­tion­rights ac­tivists and or­ga­ni­za­tions was quick and harsh. The ba­sic mes­sage: Don’t go there.

A coali­tion of pro­gres­sive groups, in­clud­ing Planned Par­ent­hood and NARAL Pro-Choice Amer­ica, is­sued a “state­ment of prin­ci­ples “chal­leng­ing the party to be un­wa­ver­ing in its sup­port for abor­tion rights. Scores of women who have had abor­tions made the same point in an open let­ter to House Demo­cratic leader Nancy Pelosi, a staunch abor­tion-rights sup­porter who nonethe­less says there’s room in the party for op­pos­ing views.

“The DCCC should not be sup­port­ing any politi­cian who does not re­spect a woman’s right to con­trol her body,” said Karin Roland, of the women’s rights group Ul­travi­o­let. “There is no fu­ture of the Demo­cratic Party with­out women - so stop be­tray­ing them for a mis­guided idea of what’s needed to win elec­tions.”

The lat­est brush fires were sparked this week by the DCCC chair­man, Rep. Ben Ray Lu­jan of New Mex­ico, when he told The Hill news­pa­per that the com­mit­tee is will­ing to aid can­di­dates who op­pose abor­tion rights. His core ar­gu­ment: Democrats - after a se­ries of dis­may­ing losses in na­tional and state elec­tions - will only re­claim power by win­ning in GOP-lean­ing dis­tricts and states where the lib­eral base can’t de­liver vic­to­ries on its own.

A DCCC of­fi­cial, Mered­ith Kelly, said Lu­jan isn’t look­ing specif­i­cally for abor­tion-rights op­po­nents, even in con­ser­va­tive dis­tricts. But, she added, “We are work­ing right now to re­cruit can­di­dates who rep­re­sent Demo­cratic val­ues and who also fit the dis­tricts they are run­ning in.” The cur­rent Congress is al­most mono­lithic when it comes to abor­tion. Only a small hand­ful of Repub­li­cans vote in fa­vor of abor­tion rights; a sim­i­larly small num­ber of Democrats sup­port re­stric­tions on abor­tion.

Outliers

Some Demo­cratic of­fi­cials sug­gest the ar­gu­ment over Lu­jan’s re­marks is overblown - a hand­ful of outliers won’t change the agenda if Democrats re­claim con­gres­sional ma­jori­ties. Abor­tion-rights lead­ers have a dif­fer­ent view. “Ev­ery time the Democrats lose an elec­tion, they start cast­ing about in ways that are deeply dam­ag­ing to the base,” NARAL pres­i­dent Il­yse Hogue said. “If they go out and start re­cruit­ing anti-choice can­di­dates un­der the Demo­cratic brand, the mes­sage is, ‘We’re will­ing to sell out women to win,’ and po­lit­i­cally that’s just sui­cide.”

Dawn Laguens, ex­ec­u­tive vice pres­i­dent of Planned Par­ent­hood, said politi­cians who per­son­ally ob­ject to abor­tion should be wel­come in the Demo­cratic Party - as long as they don’t vote to im­pose that view on oth­ers. Sup­port­ing can­di­dates who voted that way, said Laguens, would be com­pa­ra­ble to sup­port­ing can­di­dates who voted against LGBT-rights.

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