Abortion Declaration: Democrats Say No Litmus Tests


The good news just keeps coming and coming. Democrats declare that there will not be a litmus test for their party candidates who oppose abortion rights. The chairman of the Democratic Party, Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), said that they will not withhold financial support and are seeking to find ways to develop a winning roster so that they can regain the House majority in 2018.

No Litmus Testing

“There is not a litmus test for Democratic candidates,” said Luján, Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chairman. “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.” By taking this position, the party is risking alienating liberals as well as groups that are committed to promoting access to abortion and reproductive health services. These values have represented the core of the party’s base, but that should mean candidates will follow along that line anyway.

“Throwing weight behind anti-choice candidates is bad politics that will lead to worse policy,” said Mitchell Stille, who oversees campaigns for NARAL Pro-Choice America. “The idea that jettisoning this issue wins elections for Democrats is fully contradicted by all available data.” The Democratic Party is now casting a wide net for candidates. Luján, the party chair, clearly states the objective, “To pick up 24 [seats] and get to 218, that is the job. We’ll need a broad coalition to get that done. We are going to need all of that, we have to be a big family in order to win the House back.”

Different Opinions Needed

This goes along with what House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) have both argued in the past. They have stood against party litmus tests, saying that there is room for people with different opinions on abortion. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), another influential voice, has echoed that argument. This mindset harkens back to the 2006 mid-term elections. Democrats won control of the House by recruiting and supporting financially a significant number of Democrats who did not entirely support abortion rights, including former Reps. Brad Ellsworth (IN), Baron Hill (IN), Heath Shuler (NC) and Jason Altmire (PA.). When you think about it, having different opinions on abortion will help create legislation everyone can agree on, hopefully. We as Democrats are very open minded, we just want what’s best for all Americans.

“Both [then-DCCC Chairman] Rahm Emanuel and [then-Democratic National Committee Chairman] Howard Dean with his 50 state strategy understood that in order to win districts that had eluded Democrats in previous cycles, they were going to have to field candidates who didn’t look like national Democrats,” Jason Altmire said. “People understood the class of ’06 was driven largely by the centrist candidates.” Abortion rights were noticeably absent from the Democratic Party’s new policy called “A Better Deal.” It focused on economic policy related to jobs, wages and reducing the burden on families. Democrats are feeling some wind at their backs as they prepare for the 2018 elections. More than 200 Democratic candidates running for Republican-held seats have reportedly raised more than $5,000 for their campaigns. And they believe a wide net that focuses primarily on financial concerns is the way to victory. Let’s hope they are on the right track.

Credit: The Hill