Top 2020 Democrats: Pro-Lifers Need Not Apply

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Posted: Feb 11, 2020 10:30 AM
Top 2020 Democrats: Pro-Lifers Need Not Apply

The message is being sent loud and clear by major Democratic presidential candidates: Pro-lifers are not welcome in their party.  In recent days, top 2020 contenders from both the "moderate" and hard-left wings of the primary have stated outright that opposition to abortion is not a tolerable stance within Democratic politics.  Pete Buttigieg, who is an abortion radical, rebuffed a plea from a pro-life Democrat to signal at least some open-mindedness and inclusion on the issue.  Then Bernie Sanders spelled out the rejection even more explicitly:


The pro-life, life-long Democrat who pressed Buttigieg on the question has a message for him:

Buttigieg likes to talk about “future former Republicans." With his extreme stance on abortion, though, he is doing precisely the opposite: building an army of future former Democrats, disturbed by Trump but forced into a corner. These include several friends of mine. I don’t want to join them. His position that we should not draw a line on abortion goes against the polling. More than 17 million Democrats identified as pro-life in 2016, and 44% of Democrats support drawing the line to, at most, the first three months of pregnancy, according to a recent Marist poll. According to our analysis of nationally representative data from Harvard, in 176 Democrat-held congressional districts nationwide, a majority of the population supports banning late-term abortions after 20 weeks gestation. As recently as 2008, the Democratic Party recruited 12 pro-life candidates to compete for congressional seats. Several of them won, giving Democrats the congressional majority and the ability to pass a health care reform bill along with other important Democratic priorities Today, things have changed. The pro-life movement today is more inclusive than ever. The Democratic Party and its presidential candidates — less so. I want my party back.

And another pro-life Democrat, writing in the New York Post, says that the message of extremism and exclusion has become too loud to ignore any further: 

Until recently, I spent much of my time working hard to elect Democrats to public office — but the early presidential campaigning pushed me away from the party, as well prompting my resignation from the board of Democrats for Life, where I had served since 2014. For someone who is progressive on most issues, this decision doesn’t come easy...the party gave me no choice. Yes, ours was a small group, but as many as a third of Democrats identify as pro-life. Even when party leadership finally met with us, they didn’t take us seriously. When we showed them that pro-life Democrats would beat Republicans in certain districts, it didn’t matter. Even when we called for more reproductive choices for women with difficult pregnancies through services like perinatal hospice care, party leaders ignored us. Anything even hinting that abortion is less than good now violates party orthodoxy.

The straw that broke this camel’s back was Pete Buttigieg’s extremism," he went on to write in his op/ed, which was published before the Sanders answer embedded above. "Here was a mainstream Democratic candidate suggesting, at one point, that abortion is OK up to the point the baby draws her first breath. When I heard that, I realized we were fighting a losing battle. If the party was willing to go all-in on the most volatile issue of our time with a position held by only 13 percent of the population, it was time to take no for an answer."  All these people are asking for is some space for intra-party dissent and policy moderation.  They're both grappling with the reality of 'taking no for an answer.'  As both of these pro-life Democrats have noted, many of their fellow partisans are opposed to abortion -- or are moderately pro-choice.  A recent Gallup poll showed that roughly three-in-ten Democrats self-identify as pro-life on the abortion issue, and just 39 percent of Democratic voter share the near-consensus view among elite Democratic leaders that abortion should be legal under all circumstances.  

Among voters overall, 60 percent say abortion should be legal rarely or not at all.  There is a broad bipartisan consensus in favor of significant restrictions on abortion -- yet a radical litmus test now dictates that to be a national Democrat in good standing, one must embrace a stance that is shared by...six percent of the public.  It's basically the Oregon outrage, or bust.  Some in the media routinely lambaste socially conservative people of faith for embracing Donald Trump, whose personal flaws and amorality are well-documented.  But when people like Bernie Sanders say what he's said, the choice to flock to a man who doesn't actively despise and assail their values becomes rather logical:


Writing at National Review, Andrew Walker explicates the phenomenon more thoroughly, explaining why many millions of deeply religious American Christians will pull the lever in November for a man whose personal values and conduct they don't endorse:

Millions of religious conservatives will approach their votes with a political realism that requires balancing undesirable tensions and conflicting realities. They will vote not so much for Donald Trump — with his uncouth speech and incessantly immature tweets — as they will vote against the worldview of the Democratic platform. Those who make this calculation are not sell-outs, nor have they forfeited the credibility of their values carte blanche. For blind allegiance does not explain the voting relationship. That religious conservatives are not progressives does. Between Never Trump and Always Trump is a third category: Reluctant Trump. Voters in this category don’t get the fair hearing they deserve, since they defy the simple binary portrayal of religious conservatives as either offended by Trump or sold out to him.

Walker's full piece is available here.  The comments from Buttigieg and Bernie mentioned above might as well be exhibits A and B in support of his case.

UPDATE - Her voting record isn't moderate on this issue, but this is at least better: