The Democrats, already facing an intra-party war over the role of socialism in their party platform, are about to face another unity-destroying situation over the coming purge of pro-life Democrats from within the party’s ranks.
In recent weeks, a handful of states have adopted restrictive anti-abortion bills. Some, like Alabama and Georgia, have nearly ended the practice within their borders altogether, much to the chagrin of “reproductive rights” activists who immediately challenged the new laws in court.
But Democrats realized late last week that it wasn’t just Republicans speaking out against harming the unborn. Gov. John Bel Edwards of Louisiana, one of the few remaining pro-life Democrats, signed similar abortion restrictions into law in Louisiana, sending Democrats — particularly those running for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination — into a tailspin.
NBC News now reports that pressure is building inside the Democratic party to purge pro-lifers like John Bel Edwards and Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-IL), who has been steadfastly against abortion for his entire tenure in Congress. And unlike previous efforts to purge anti-abortion lawmakers, the pressure is coming from “mainstream” Democrats with only loose affiliations to the progressive left.
“‘Gov. Edwards’ decision is dangerous and we will fight it,’ said Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called the bill ‘heartbreaking.’ Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., labeled it ‘draconian,’ while Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., called his decision to sign it ‘outrageous,'” NBC News reported.
But Edwards is up for re-election, and he’s a rare Democratic governor in the deep south. Next door, in Mississippi, Democrats believe they have a chance at taking that statehouse, too, but their best bet for governor there is the state’s reigning Attorney General, Jim Hood, who describes himself as ardently pro-life.
Democrats will have to support both to keep a foothold in the south, even as, nationally, candidates like Sen, Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) are declaring that “we should be 100 percent pro-choice, and it should be non-negotiable.”
Officially, Democrats are being kind: “The Democratic Governors Association, the party’s official campaign arm, has said it will support Edwards, even though all 22 of its other members back abortion rights,” NBC reports. “Even some who turned out to a protest organized by Planned Parenthood here said they’ll back Edwards over a Republican, but may not donate or volunteer for him, and may be less likely to make it to polls on Election Day.”
“Unofficial” Democratic arms, though, like NARAL, are declaring war.
“Women are the base of the Democratic Party, leading the charge for equality by fighting for reproductive freedom,” NARAL Pro-Choice America Political Director Nicole Brener-Schmitz told The Hill. “Governor Edwards, and any other elected official attempting to use political overreach to roll back our rights, is mistaken to think our fundamental freedoms are up for debate. … He won’t get a pass just because he is a Democrat.”
The split is coming at an unfortunate time for Democrats, who are already cracking under a host of divisive issues, like whether socialism has a permanent place in the party, and what the party’s view of Israel looks like, given that several of its newest rising stars oppose the nation’s right to exist and have frequently dabbled in anti-Semitism. If their only solution is to adopt the most extreme positions, the moderate Democrats — particularly blue-collar workers and Rust Belt denizens — won’t be coming back, and that will be a permanent loss for the party.