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Pro-life Democrats demand end to party's 'horrible litmus test' on abortion

Kristen Day
Kristen Day, the executive director of Democrats for Life of America, speaks at a press conference outside the Democratic National Committee's headquarters in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 30, 2021. |

WASHINGTON — A group of pro-life Democrats on Tuesday held a press conference outside the Democratic National Committee's headquarters where they handed over a list of demands in which they argue that the party must accommodate pro-life voices and live up to its promise to promote “diversity and inclusion.” 

Kristen Day, executive director of Democrats for Life of America, said she made numerous attempts to meet with DNC Chair Jaime Harrison so he “could get a better understanding of what motivates pro-life Democratic voters,” but she was disappointed by his response. 

“You know what the answer was?” Day asked the crowd of pro-life Democrats and progressives gathered outside the DNC's headquarters. “Nothing. No response.” 

Following months of not receiving a response from Harrison and unanswered requests to meet with him, Day recently tried again. This time she asked to meet with both Harrison and a former South Carolina Senate candidate following the Democrats’ loss in the Virginia gubernatorial election earlier this month. She suggested that Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe’s outspoken support for abortion contributed to his loss to Republican governor-elect Glenn Youngkin.

“A CNN poll indicated that abortion was an issue that hurt McAuliffe,” she said. “Diversity and inclusion are the foundation of our party. The chairman has not been true to those values with respect to pro-life voters and elected officials.” 

In an interview with The Christian Post, Day emphasized that, in the past, when DFLA submitted a request to meet with DNC chairs “right after they were appointed,” their requests were approved and they met with all of the previous DNC chairs. Harrison is the first DNC chair who has rejected their requests for a meeting.  

Day stressed that the purpose of the press conference was to “demand to be heard and “demand that he meets with us,” in addition to unveiling “a list of demands that we want him to implement at the DNC.” 

“We want a clear statement from him … with inclusive language for pro-life Democrats in the party, saying, ‘We are a big tent party. We include pro-life Democrats. We encourage pro-life Democrats to run. We will no longer discriminate against pro-life Democrats who want to run for office.'”

Day’s request for “inclusive language for pro-life Democrats” comes as Democratic Party leadership has become increasingly hostile toward pro-life Democrats, who once made up a sizable share of the party’s membership in Congress. Tom Perez, who preceded Harrison as chair of the DNC, declared in 2017 that “every Democrat, like every American, should support a woman’s right to make her own choices about her body and her health.” 

Perez described support for abortion as “not negotiable,” adding that the party “must speak up for this principle as loudly as ever and with one voice.” Following the 2020 election, two of the last remaining pro-life Democrats in the House no longer serve in Congress. Rep. Dan Lipinski, D-Ill., was defeated in a primary election by a pro-abortion challenger, while Rep. Collin Peterson, D-Minn., lost the general election in his deep-red district to Republican Michelle Fischbach. 

In remarks at the press conference, John Quinn, DFLA’s business operations assistant, condemned the “horrible litmus test that we’ve seen the party cling to more and more” and demanded that the DNC abandon it. He lamented that the abortion litmus test “scares operatives and consultants and fundraisers who would otherwise want to work for these candidates.”

He urged the DNC to “stop blacklisting” consultants and operatives “for helping pro-life Democrats get elected.” 

Day also called for a return to the “50-state strategy,” where the Democrats would focus on “running people for the district” by recruiting pro-life Democrats to run in pro-life congressional districts currently represented by Republicans in Congress. She also asked the DNC to establish a “pro-life community” the same way it ensures representation for “all sorts of minority communities represented here.”

“There needs to be a desk inside the DNC with a pro-life Democrat working with pro-life Democratic candidates, working with pro-life Democratic voters and representing us here. This is our party, and we demand to be represented in it.”

Quinn announced the remaining demands the DFLA sought to present to the DNC. He stressed the need to “keep identifying pro-life Democrats and pro-life districts,” maintaining that “these are people who want to vote for us, we’ve just got to welcome them in.”

Day also cited statistics showing that one in three Democrats is pro-life.

“There are millions of them out there and we’re building the infrastructure to reach them. We want to give that infrastructure over … to the DNC. We want it to be a permanent part of the DNC,” he added.

Looking ahead to the 2024 presidential election, Quinn noted that “whoever the party standard-bearer is to try to win the White House, we want that person to be able to run on inclusive language in the party platform” with regard to pro-life Democrats. 

After the press conference concluded, Day and DFLA President Monica Sparks attempted to present a letter containing the demands to DNC leadership. They were not allowed into the building but after a short wait, DNC Director of Operations Kim Duffy came outside and accepted the letter. She vowed that Harrison would receive it.  

Ryan Foley is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at: ryan.foley@christianpost.com

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