Pro-life Democrats are “fed up” over the party’s staunch support of abortion and need to let the presidential candidates know it, the leader of Democrats for Life of America said on Monday.
“We’ve had enough,” Kristen Day, executive director of Democrats for Life of America, told CNA.
Day spoke to CNA after Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg told her at an Iowa townhall event on Sunday that he would forego the support of pro-life voters to maintain his absolute support for legal abortion.
Pro-abortion presidential candidates “are so afraid of the abortion lobby, and even making any inroads to Democrats for Life, pro-life Democrats, they’re afraid that they’re going to lose all their money and support,” Day said.
Pro-life Democrats throughout the country are frustrated over the party leadership’s increasingly staunch support of abortion, she told CNA.
“We need pro-life Democrats all over the country to go to these [presidential] candidates and ask the question: Do you want pro-life Democrats in the party? Because if not, we won’t vote for you,” Day said.
On Sunday evening, Day asked Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, about the party’s tolerance for pro-life Democrats, at a Des Moines, Iowa, townhall event moderated by Fox News’ Chris Wallace.
“I am a proud pro-life Democrat. So, do you want the support of pro-life Democrats—pro-life Democratic voters?” Day asked. “And if so, would you support more moderate platform language in the Democratic Party, to ensure that the party of diversity, of inclusion, really does include everybody?”
Buttigieg responded that “I am pro-choice. And I believe that a woman ought to be able to make that decision [on abortion],” to applause from the audience.
He said that public officials should not be making decisions for women on abortion, and that if Democratic voters would not support him for his stance, “I understand.”
“The best I can offer is that if we can’t agree on where to draw the line, the next best thing we can do is agree on who should draw the line. And in my view, it’s the woman who’s faced with that decision in her own life,” he said.
Day told CNA on Monday that she hadn’t actually asked Buttigieg about his abortion stance because “I know where he stands.”
In May 2019, when asked by Fox News’ Chris Wallace if there should be any limits on abortion at any stage of pregnancy, Buttigieg responded “I trust women to draw the line.”
Day said on Monday that “I just wanted to know if he [Buttigieg] thought there was room for us in the party. And he doesn’t.”
She told CNA that pro-life Democrats have been asking his campaign staff since December for a meeting, but no meeting has been offered. Instead, she decided to ask him in person at the townhall.
Buttigieg’s comments came two months after Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) was asked at a Nov. 20 debate if there is room in the Democratic Party for a pro-life politician.
Warren said the party is “fundamentally” about preserving abortion access and that “abortion rights are human rights,” but added that “I’m not here to try to drive anyone out of this party.”
Day followed up her first question on Sunday evening by asking if Buttigieg if he would at least support language in the Democratic National Committee platform for 2020 that would recognize “diversity of views” on abortion within the party.
“Would you be open to language like that in the Democratic platform that really did say that our party is diverse, and inclusive, and we want everybody?” she asked the candidate on Sunday.
Buttigieg declined to support that language, instead calling abortion “medical care” that should be universally available.
“I support the position of my party, that this kind of medical care [abortion] needs to be available to everyone,” he said.
While he said earlier Sunday evening that abortion should be left up to women, Buttigieg eventually said he did back limits on late-term abortions in line with the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe decision.
“I support the Roe v. Wade framework that holds that early in pregnancy there are very few restrictions, and late in pregnancy there are very few exceptions,” he said.
He expressed his hope that pro-life Democrats will be willing to support him despite their disagreement on abortion.
“And again, the best I can offer is that we may disagree on that very important issue, and hopefully, we will be able to partner on other issues,” he said.
“I cannot imagine that a decision that a woman confronts is going to ever be better, medically or morally, because it’s being dictated by any government official,” Buttigieg said.
The president of the National Abortion Rights Action League, Ilyse Hogue, tweeted on Sunday evening that Day’s question and the applause Buttigieg received for his answer “is a good reminder to differentiate between people who feel personally pro-life and those who are anti-choice like Kristen Day.”
“The latter category believes it’s fine to force their beliefs on others through law. The former does not,” Hogue said.
Day told CNA that despite the applause for Buttigieg’s answer, people sitting around her at the event supported her question to him and expressed disappointment in his response.
A 2019 CNN poll of likely Iowa Democratic Caucus attendees showed around 80% of respondents saying that a candidate’s support for a “woman’s right to abortion” was a “must-have.”
Day said that support for abortion increases among Democratic activists, and that pro-life Democrats need to become more active within the party.
Many voters, Day told CNA, say they support a woman’s choice for abortion, but when it comes to the details of abortion policy, they can not be classified as “pro-abortion.”
“A lot of people think that that [abortion] choice should still be there,” but when they learn of detailed policy positions such as legal abortion for all nine months of pregnancy, or the removal of safety regulations of abortion clinics, “when it comes right down to it, most people agree with me,” Day said.
“The abortion extremism,” she said, “this is not going to be a good long-term strategy for them.”
Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List, on Monday pointed to a recent Knights of Columbus/Marist poll showing “44% of rank-and-file Democrats want to vote for a candidate who supports common-ground limits on abortion.”
Dannenfelser is also the co-chair of “Pro-Life Voices for Trump,” the campaign’s outreach to pro-life voters.
“The modern Democratic Party is the party of abortion on demand through birth, paid for by taxpayers, and even infanticide. President Trump, in stark contrast, has championed popular legislation to stop late-term abortion and protect babies who survive abortions,” Dannenfelser said.