Anti-Choice Democrats Helpfully Offer Up List Of Legislators To Primary Next Year
On Friday, a group calling itself Democrats For Life sent out a letter to the Democratic National Convention asking to take support for reproductive rights off of the Democratic platform, because of how it would like to take those rights away from us. In the letter, the group shared its fears that the Democratic Party is "alienating voters" by supporting the right to have an abortion and pushing to codify Roe v. Wade into law.
This letter was signed by 100 Democratic politicians, including John Bel Edwards, Governor of Louisiana, former Illinois Rep. Dan Lipiniski (fresh off a loss to pro-choice candidate Marie Newman), former congressman Bart Stupak of the proposed Stupak-Pitts Amendment to prohibit the ACA from including any plan that would cover abortion, and Louisiana state Senator Katrina Jackson, the author of an anti-abortion bill struck down by the Supreme Court earlier this year. The list of those currently serving should be very helpful in determining which legislators might be ripe for a primary challenge.
The signatories, predictably, cited their concerns about maintaining their seats due to the Party's official positions on abortion.
We are current and former elected Democrats from many states, representing millions of Americans. We are members of Congress, state legislators, and local officials. Like you, we are committed to the Democratic principles of equality, fairness, and democracy. We have committed our careers to advance Democratic ideals and policies. Many of us represent purple districts, where it is difficult to earn and retain elected office as a Democrat. One of us is a Democratic governor in a red state. We respect the pro-life leanings of our constituents.
And they subsequently distorted the Party's official position on abortion.
We are concerned that many Democratic leaders support policies on abortion that are radically out of line with public opinion. Many Democratic leaders support abortion at any time, for any reason; this position is opposed by 79% of Americans.
That is not true. Those leaders support abortion, in regular circumstances, up until viability — which is very precisely in line with what the law of the land allows. The whole "Democrats want people to have abortions as a perfectly healthy baby is coming down the birth canal" is a fiction invented not just by the right, but spread by Donald Trump personally, due to his confusion on the subject. (Or just his willingness to lie.)
The thing he was confused about is that most of us do support abortion after the 25th week, but only when the fetus is non-viable and cannot live outside of the womb. For instance, if it's brain is not inside its head. And that's not really so much abortion as it is "not forcing someone go through hours of labor to give birth to a stillborn child, because that would just be cruel." That is very different from "at any time, for any reason."
Regardless of how they may feel on the subject, parroting false Republican talking points about abortion is not something Democrats should be doing.
The 2016 Democratic Platform endorses taxpayer funding of abortion, opposed by a supermajority of the population.
This is also a Republican talking point, really. Because if they were really being honest, what these signatories would say is that they oppose those who have served in our armed forces being able to use their own health insurance to get an abortion, that they oppose poor people who rely on Medicaid using that to get an abortion. Not, you know, the government purposely handing out taxpayer dollars to anyone who wants an abortion.
The same platform endorses taxpayer funding of abortion in developing countries, opposed by three-fourths of voters.
Well, if those voters actually really care about preventing abortions, perhaps they should look into the well documented fact that, in practice, the global gag rule has led to more abortions actually happening. Women in Latin America had three times as many abortions while Bush's gag rule was in effect than they did before or after that policy was in place. Trump's ban on funding for NGOs that perform abortions or even mention the word abortion has, in fact, led to more abortions.
If these legislators were simultaneously sincerely "pro-life" and very into supporting the Democratic Party, they might do well to point things like this out instead of just going along with whatever Republicans or disingenuous pollsters say. They might also point out that while outlawing abortion would actually do very little to actually decrease the number of abortions that occur, sex education and access to birth control will. As will making it so people can actually afford to have children. Living wages, child care, taxpayer funded college tuition, healthcare both for the child and for the mother — these are all things people worry about when they decide whether or not they are ready to have a child. If these people actually want to decrease the number of abortions, these are the things they should be worried about.
We are concerned that, due to this wide disparity, the Democratic Party is alienating voters. In 389 out of 435 Congressional districts, a majority of voters support a ban on abortion after 20 weeks. When Democratic leaders support late-term abortion, they push many voters into the arms of the Republican Party. Many people holding pro-life views are single-issue voters.
As are many of us who hold pro-choice views. Because let's be real here, one of the primary functions of the Democratic Party is to keep us from losing access to our reproductive rights. It's why many who might otherwise direct their energy into supporting more progressive candidates from third parties are hesitant about doing so. Because yes, frankly, we will all absolutely take a legislator who does absolutely nothing other than stand there and not vote for bad abortion laws over someone who would vote for them. That is the bare minimum we expect.
Finally, we are concerned about the betrayal of Democratic Party values. An extreme position on abortion rights violates our commitment to inclusivity and diversity.
Oh please. What's next? Tolerate our intolerance?
We support reintroducing the conscience language from 2000 into the 2020 platform, which acknowledges that Americans have differing and deeply held views on abortion. We call upon the Democratic Party to avoid divisive policies, such as passing a law in Congress defining a right to abortion ("codifying Roe v. Wade) and introducing taxpayer-funded abortion ("repealing the Hyde Amendment").
The 2016 platform read:
Democrats are committed to protecting and advancing reproductive health, rights, and justice. We believe unequivocally, like the majority of Americans, that every woman should have access to quality reproductive health care services, including safe and legal abortion—regardless of where she lives, how much money she makes, or how she is insured. We believe that reproductive health is core to women's, men's, and young people's health and wellbeing. We will continue to stand up to Republican efforts to defund Planned Parenthood health centers, which provide critical health services to millions of people. We will continue to oppose—and seek to overturn—federal and state laws and policies that impede a woman's access to abortion, including by repealing the Hyde Amendment. We condemn and will combat any acts of violence, harassment, and intimidation of reproductive health providers, patients, and staff. We will defend the ACA, which extends affordable preventive health care to women, including no-cost contraception, and prohibits discrimination in health care based on gender.
We will address the discrimination and barriers that inhibit meaningful access to reproductive health care services, including those based on gender, sexuality, race, income, disability, and other factors. We recognize that quality, affordable comprehensive health care, evidence-based sex education and a full range of family planning services help reduce the number of unintended pregnancies and thereby also reduce the need for abortions.
None of that is radical, it is all perfectly reasonable.
The letter concludes:
Fundamentally, we believe that every single state and county in this country deserves Democratic governance. We should not cede large swathes of the United States to the Republican Party. In the US, pro-life Democrats have been a critical part of the coalition to expand voting rights, improve health care, and pass criminal justice reform. These accomplishments would not have been possible if the Democratic Party had in place a litmus test on abortion.
Well, here's the thing. Would I prefer a litmus test on abortion for those actually serving as Democrats? Yes, I would. For those voting? Eh, who cares. Not my business. What I, and others, will need to absolutely demand a litmus test on is not taking and validating bad right-wing talking points on abortion. Because if they believe that bullshit, what else will they believe?
Just for the record, despite all of those very stupid talking points floating around the ether, 77 percent of US Americans still support the right to abortion and would not like to see Roe v. Wade overturned. So perhaps we ought to be more concerned about not alienating them and making sure the correct information gets out than we are concerned about alienating whatever small minority of people who would not only like to outlaw abortion but would also vote for Democrats for other reasons.
Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse