Democrat says issue not ‘litmus test’ for party
The chairman of the House Democrats’ campaign arm is in hot water with pro-choice advocates for saying Democratic candidates for office do not have to support abortion rights.
In an interview with The Hill published on Monday, Rep. Ben Ray Lujan of New Mexico said abortion is not a “litmus test” for affiliation with the party.
“There is not a litmus test for Democratic candidates,” said Mr. Lujan, who is chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. “As we look at candidates across the country, you need to make sure you have candidates that fit the district, that can win in these districts across America.”
He said Democrats need a “broad coalition” to pick up the 24 seats required to take back the House in 2018.
The remark irked rank-and-file Democrats and pro-choice activists alike.
Howard Dean, who headed the Democratic National Committee from 2005 to 2009, denounced the campaign committee’s stance in a tweet on Monday.
“I’m afraid I’ll be with holding support for the DCCC if this is true,” Mr. Dean said.
Laura Moser, a Democratic candidate for Congress in Texas’ 7th District, said “women’s rights are no more negotiable to Democrats than racial equality or LGBT rights.”
Renee Bracey Smith, a board member at NARAL Pro-Choice America, called out Mr. Lujan by name.
“I had an abortion. I’d love to chat with you about why my healthcare access is up for debate to win elections,” Ms. Sherman tweeted. “Let’s talk.”
“What better strategy than to betray their base and reaffirm that women’s basic rights are negotiable and disposable,” chimed in prominent progressive author Jill Filipovic.
How much weight to give abortion has been a major source of contention among Democrats in the wake of the general election.
The party endorsed its most radical stance on abortion in 2016, adding to its platform for the first time a commitment to repealing the Hyde Amendment, which bars taxpayer funding for abortion.
But some in the party have blamed its losses, including dwindling representation in state legislatures and governor’s mansions, on making social rather than economic issues paramount.