The Corner

Elections

Democrats Oust Pro-Life Politicians at Their Peril

Democratic U.S. presidential candidate Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) addresses abortion rights activists during a rally outside the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, U.S., May 21, 2019. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

The New York Times is reporting this morning that the Democratic Attorneys General Association (DAGA) will refuse to endorse any candidate who doesn’t support the unlimited right to abortion. More from the Times:

To win financial and strategic backing from the group, candidates will be required to make a public statement declaring their support of abortion rights. The group, the Democratic Attorneys General Association, recruits candidates and helps their campaigns with financial support, data analysis, messaging and policy positions. . . .

“Attorneys general are on the front lines of the fight for reproductive freedom,” Letitia James, the New York attorney general, said in a video promoting the group’s decision, which featured news media coverage of the new state laws. “They have the power to protect your rights.”

The announcement comes at an interesting time: Over the weekend, Louisiana’s Democratic governor John Bel Edwards eked out a victory in a close reelection race, defeating Republican candidate Eddie Rispone by only 40,00 votes, a margin of about three points.

Edwards is the only Democratic governor in the South — and, surely not coincidentally, one of the very last pro-life politicians left in the Democratic party. Of all the heartbeat bills signed into law earlier this year — bills prohibiting abortion after a fetal heartbeat can be detected, which usually occurs somewhere between six and eight weeks’ gestation — only one was signed by a Democratic governor: Louisiana’s.

The DAGA’s decision to impose a pro-abortion litmus test won’t affect Edwards, of course; he’s a governor, not an attorney general. But it’s yet another sign that the Democratic party is angling to excise anyone who isn’t willing to go along with the party line: Elective abortion, for any reason, at any stage of pregnancy, funded by the U.S. taxpayer.

In a piece for the Washington Post over the weekend, and a piece for the most recent issue of NR’s print magazine, I took a close look at this problem on the left and found that, as recently as 2008, Democrats were still using Bill Clinton’s catchphrase “safe, legal, and rare” when talking about abortion:

You don’t have to go back to the 1990s to find Democrats speaking in a more moderate vein. As recently as her 2008 presidential primary run against Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton routinely used the phrase “safe, legal and rare,” even adding, “and by rare, I mean rare.” But by her 2016 campaign, she’d dropped such talk. In 2009, Obama delivered a commencement address at the University of Notre Dame in which he acknowledged the moral complexity of abortion, spoke of pro-life Americans as operating in good faith and called for reducing the demand for abortion. That kind of language is nowhere to be heard in the current Democratic primary race, even from former vice president Joe Biden, who supported the Hyde Amendment for decades — until his current run.

When Hawaii Democrat Tulsi Gabbard invoked “safe, legal, and rare” in the most recent Democratic presidential debate, she faced immediate, severe censure from progressives, who insist that it’s stigmatizing to women to suggest that abortion ought to be rare. Today, the party’s official platform calls for the repeal of the Hyde amendment, once a bipartisan rider guaranteeing that federal funds wouldn’t be used to directly underwrite abortion procedures. Aside from Gabbard, Democratic presidential candidates by and large refuse to endorse a single restriction on abortion procedures.

The Democratic party’s current stance on abortion is much better described as “safe, legal, and unlimited.” But as Edwards demonstrated over the weekend, there are still plenty of voters, including Democrats, who prefer pro-life politicians. Progressives have spent the last several years deriding any American who would support Donald Trump even begrudgingly, but when they eliminate every Democratic alternative except for those who promote abortion on demand, they have no one to blame but themselves.

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