WASHINGTON (ChurchMilitant.com) - Pro-life Democrats have again been snubbed by their party's leadership — this time by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC).
"The DCCC has no interest in working with Democrats for Life of America, despite their attempts," DCCC spokesperson Meredith Kelly told The Atlantic Thursday.
Party infighting over how "ideologically pure" candidates must be on abortion has been ongoing since April. The clash erupted when Democratic National Committee (DNC) chairman Tom Perez announced a de facto abortion litmus test for Democratic political candidates.
"I won't let anyone get in the way of our fight to protect a woman's right to choose," Perez, a self-described Catholic, declared. He continued:
Every Democrat, like every American, should support a woman's right to make her own choices about her body and her health. That is not negotiable and should not change city by city or state by state. Every candidate who runs as a Democrat should do the same because every woman should be able to make her own health choices. Period.
Perez indicated that any pro-life, office-seeking Democrat could expect no financial support from the DNC.
But the idea of an abortion litmus test provoked concern among some leading Democrats. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, for example, publicly disavowed the idea.
"I grew up Nancy D'Alesandro, in Baltimore, Maryland, in Little Italy, in a very devout Catholic family, fiercely patriotic, proud of our town and heritage and staunchly Democratic," she told the Washington Post on May. "Most of those people — my family, extended family — are not pro-choice. You think I'm kicking them out of the Democratic Party?"
Two weeks ago, Rep. Ben Ray Luján of New Mexico underscored Pelosi's position, insisting the party would support pro-life candidates in conservative districts.
"There is not a litmus test for Democratic candidates," he affirmed.
Luján is pushing for a more ideologically inclusive Democratic Party, recognizing that without pro-life votes, it will continue to lose elections. As chairman of the DCCC, his goal is to recapture the House of Representatives in the 2018 elections. To achieve this, Democrats must pick up 24 congressional seats to reach the targeted threshold: 218.
"As we look at candidates across the country, you need to make sure you have candidates that fit the district, that can win in these districts across America," said Luján. "We'll need a broad coalition to get that done."
A January Marist poll found four in 10 Democrats consider abortion morally wrong. Reliably blue states Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania voted Republican by razor-thin margins last November. According to Google's analytics, the term "abortion" in relation to presidential candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, was the search engine's top search item on election day.
All this has led some in the party to suggest that their stridently pro-abortion stance may be undermining the party's performance at the ballot box.
Democrats have suffered an almost decade-long record of electoral defeat. Since 2008, under the leadership of Barack Obama and Nancy Pelosi, the party has lost more than 1,030 legislative seats and state governorships.
In July 2016, after the party adopted the most radically pro-abortion platform in American political history, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards advised: "the party might be more successful in the Deep South if it allowed more pro-life candidates to rise in the ranks."
In June, representatives of Democrats for Life of America met with Perez at DNC headquarters to discuss softening the leadership's position on abortion.
They delivered a list of requests, including "a public statement on the DNC website and a letter from the chairman to all state and local party chairs, explaining that the party does not support an abortion litmus test and pressuring people to change their position on life." Their requests were denied.
Now, Kelly's statement contradicts Luján's assurances, demonstrating that Democrats are willing to go only so far in supporting pro-life advocates.