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Politics & Policy

Democratic Attorneys General Association to Impose ‘Abortion Litmus Test’ before Endorsing Candidates

Pro-Choice supporters rally outside a Planned Parenthood clinic in Detroit, Michigan, February 11, 2017. (Rebecca Cook/Reuters)

The Democratic Attorneys General Association announced Monday that it would only endorse candidates who publicly pledge to defend and expand access to abortion, becoming the first national party committee to establish such an explicit test.

“Attorneys general are on the front lines of the fight for reproductive freedom,” New York attorney general Letitia James said in a video promoting the announcement. “They have the power to protect your rights.”

Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum of Oregon, who is a co-chair of the committee and seeking re-election next year, said that current political realities require that attorneys general take the lead in protecting unfettered access to abortion.

“State attorneys general are now on the map as taking the lead when it comes to Democratic values,” Rosenblum said. “We are going to be the ones to be right out in front and hopefully the other committees will follow right along.”

While only one of 27 current Democratic state attorney generals — Jim Hood of Mississippi — is considered pro-life, Louisiana governor John Bell Edwards won reelection on Saturday in a hotly contested race after campaigning on a pro-life stance.

Former senator Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, who served two terms as her state’s Attorney General and lost her Senate seat last year after voting against the confirmation of Justice Brett Kavanaugh, told the New York Times that she thought the move was “wrongheaded.”

“There are very principled people, who are Democrats, who feel very strongly about this issue for religious reasons and when you say you’re not welcome in our party I think it is exclusionary,” she said. “You have to look at the totality of a candidate.”

In response, the Republican Attorneys General Association released a statement condemning the move.

““The only litmus test for an attorney general should be a belief in the rule of law and the courage to defend and uphold the constitution,” it reads. “The Democrats demonstrated once again how out of touch and desperate they are to receive funding from dangerously progressive special interest groups who support using hard-earned taxpayer dollars to fund late-term and third trimester abortions.”

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