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Democrats Debate: Include Pro-Lifers or Not?

Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D., N.M.), head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, says he is willing to fund pro-life Democratic candidates for the House. He is getting fierce blowback. Former Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean says he won’t donate to the group if it funds pro-lifers. Journalist Lauren Duca says that the DCCC decision is “a betrayal of every woman who has ever supported the Democratic party.” (Thirty-four percent of Democrats believe abortion should be banned, or banned with exceptions for rape, incest, and threats to the mother’s life; polling has generally not found a significant difference in views of abortion between men and women.)

The last time the Democrats took control of the House from the Republicans, in 2006, it was in part by recruiting a few candidates who presented themselves as pro-life Democrats to run in socially conservative districts: Heath Shuler in North Carolina, Joe Donnelly and Brad Ellsworth in Indiana. Democrats also touted their support for Bob Casey’s Senate run in Pennsylvania as a sign of their new tolerance. The chairman of the DNC at the time argued for it. His name was Howard Dean.

The party has moved left on abortion, as on other issues, since then.

One question for those Democrats who want to kick any remaining pro-life Democrats out of their party: Are they prepared to withhold all funding for now-senator Joe Donnelly and Sen. Joe Manchin (W. Va.), both of whom are on the federal advisory board of Democrats for Life of America and up for reelection next year? 

(I wrote about the last round of this debate here.)


Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.


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