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Pro-choice Democratic lawmaker rejects DNC chairman's hardline abortion position

Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) distanced himself from Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez, who said over the weekend that support for abortion is “not negotiable” in the Democratic Party. If Democrats ever want to regain majorities in Congress, Ryan said it is necessary for the left to welcome pro-life Democrats. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan, a Democrat, is rejecting Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez’s assertion that all Democrats who run for office must support abortion.

“Every Democrat, like every American, should support a woman’s right to make her own choices about her body and her health,” Perez said over the weekend. “That is not negotiable and should not change city by city or state by state.”

According to Ryan, though, it is negotiable. In fact, if Democrats ever want to regain majorities in Congress, Ryan, a pro-choice lawmaker, said it is necessary for the left to welcome pro-life Democrats.

“Absolutely. Needs to be, if you want to have a majority party in the country, if you ever want to govern again,” Ryan said Wednesday during an interview with liberal radio host Bill Press.

According to the Ohio politician, the last time Democrats enjoyed a majority in the House of Representatives,  there were several pro-life Democrats who voted with the majority of the party on most other issues.

“When we were the majority, we had 36 pro-life Democrats in the House of Representatives,” Ryan said. “We probably had another 10 to 15 that would vote for [a ban on] partial-birth abortion. They were pro-choice but they voted for that partial birth ban.”

“They voted for [California Rep.] Nancy Pelosi for speaker. They voted [for] health care,” he continued. “They voted for energy bill. They voted for Lilly Ledbetter. They voted for equal pay. They were with us 70 to 80 percent of what we wanted.”

Perez’s firm stance against pro-life Democrats comes on the heels of liberal Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I) decision to endorse Heath Mello, a pro-life Democratic candidate for mayor in Omaha, Nebraska. NARAL, a pro-abortion advocacy group, called Sanders’ endorsement a “betrayal of women.”

Perez initially supported Mello’s candidacy, but changed his tune late last week when pro-abortion groups rejected the Nebraska candidate’s pro-life credentials.

Pelosi, the House Minority Leader, distanced herself from Perez’s statements as well as those of Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), who said Democrats will only be welcomed into the fold if they support pro-abortion legislation.

Pelosi told NBC News’ “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd over the weekend that “of course” the Democratic Party has room for pro-life lawmakers.

“I have served many years in Congress with members who have not shared my very positive — my family would say aggressive — position on promoting a woman’s right to choose,” she said.

Ryan agreed with Pelosi.

“I think we got to be accepting. It looks judgmental to people — it looks like we know better,” he said. “We got to be open, and we can’t eliminate a large swath of the country, because they want to be with us on these other issues.”

One last thing…
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