Updated: May 18
The Democratic Party is currently facing an internal debate over whether it should embrace anti-abortion lawmakers. The party currently has six men — and no women — who consistently support an anti-abortion agenda serving in the U.S. House of Representatives or Senate, a spokesperson for Democrats for Life of America told Motto. There are currently 78 women Democrats in all of Congress.
On Tuesday, the Atlantic reported that Democratic National Committee chair Tom Perez would meet with Democrats for Life of America, an organization that describes itself as “the pro-life voice and wing of the Democratic Party.” The meeting follows Perez’s controversial comments that that all members of the party should support abortion rights.
Perez issued the statement after the Democratic National Committee and other party leaders, including former presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, faced criticism for supporting Omaha, Neb. mayoral candidate Heath Mello, who had an anti-abortion track record. Mello lost the election earlier this month.
But while the party’s 2016 platform had a clear stance in favor of abortion rights, some argue the party shouldn’t alienate its anti-abortion wing. The group lost one of its more prominent female voices in Congress when Rep. Kathy Dahklemper of Pennsylvania was voted out of office in 2011 after serving one term.
Here are the current Democrats in the U.S. House and Senate who consistently support anti-abortion legislation.
Sen. Joe Donnelly (Indiana): Donnelly, who was elected to the Senate in 2012 after a number of years in the House of Representatives, has said that he is “committed to protecting the sanctity of life.” He has voted to support a 20-week abortion ban and co-sponsored legislation that would prohibit transporting minors across state lines to get an abortion. While he has voted to defund Planned Parenthood in the past, he began voting against those efforts in 2015.
Donnelly said that the party should welcome anti-abortion members. “I don’t know why we would want to start walking away from folks, like myself, who have a personal conviction on the pro-life issue,” Donnelly told the Atlantic. “We ought to be able to include everyone, as opposed to saying ‘no, we don’t want these folks, even though they fight with us on jobs, even though they fight with us for economic rights, even though they fight with us on healthcare.’ It just seems to me to be very, very short-sighted.”
Sen. Bob Casey (Pennsylvania): Casey, who was first elected in 2007, is the son of former Pennsylvania Democratic Governor Robert Casey, who also famously opposed abortion. Casey supports the Hyde Amendment, which bars federal funding from being used to pay for abortions in most cases, and has voted in favor of prohibiting minors from crossing state lines to get the procedure. But this year, he signed onto a letter criticizing Republicans for attempting to defund Planned Parenthood and has long said that he supports the organization. Update: A spokesperson for Casey notes that he has voted against the so-called Mexico City Policy, which bans federal money from going to international groups that perform or provide information on abortion.
Sen. Joe Manchin III (West Virginia): Manchin, who began serving in 2010, opposes abortion and has said that “life is very sacred to [him].” He has faced criticism for his views on Planned Parenthood — earlier this year, he voted to preserve funding for the organization. In 2015, he voted to defund the group following the release of videos that alleged the group had sold fetal tissue for profit, claims which the organization strongly denies.
U.S. House of Representatives
Rep. Dan Lipinski (Illinois): Lipinski, who began serving in 2005, has voted to ban federal health coverage for abortion, ban abortions after 20 weeks and defund Planned Parenthood. He has served as the co-chair of the House’s Pro-Life Caucus.
Rep. Henry Cuellar (Texas): Cuellar, who was elected in 2005, has said he opposes abortion. He has supported a 20-week abortion ban, banning federal health coverage that includes abortion and permanently prohibiting taxpayer funding from being used for abortion services.
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