An op-ed published in the New York Times on Wednesday stated that the Democratic Party should use abortion as a “litmus test” for its candidates because “abortion is liberty.”
Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said in an interview with The Hill earlier this week that the DCCC will not withhold funding for pro-life Democratic House candidates in the 2018 elections. Luján argued that “candidates that fit the district” are key to winning a House majority.
Lindy West, author of “Shrill: Notes From a Loud Woman” and the activist behind the “Shout Your Abortion” social media campaign, took issue with Luján’s remarks, writing in the Times that “abortion is not valid fodder for such compromise.”
“Nor is racism, nor is L.G.B.T.Q. equality, nor is any issue that puts people’s fundamental humanity up for debate,” West wrote. “Abortion is not a fringe issue. Abortion is liberty.”
“I relate to the flailing panic that is no doubt undergirding such a morally putrescent idea,” West wrote. “Nineteen hyenas and a broken vacuum cleaner control the White House, and ice is becoming extinct. I get it. I am desperate and afraid as well. I am prepared to make leviathan compromises to pull us back from that brink. But there is no recognizable version of the Democratic Party that does not fight unequivocally against half its constituents’ being stripped of ownership of their own bodies and lives. This issue represents everything Democrats purport to stand for.”
West argued that “to legislatively oppose abortion is to be, at best, indifferent to the disenfranchisement, suffering and possibly even the death of women. At worst, it is to revel in those things, to believe them fundamental to the natural order.”
“Where, exactly, on that spectrum is Luján comfortable placing his party?” she asked.
West dismissed the concerns of pro-life Democrats, arguing that “abortion is not controversial on the left.”
“Democratic candidates are perfectly welcome to refrain from terminating their own pregnancies,” she wrote. “But to be anti-choice on a policy level is absolutely indefensible from an economic justice, racial justice, gender justice and human rights standpoint. And if the Democratic Party does not stand for any of those things, then what on earth is it?”
“Abortion is normal,” West continued. “Abortion is common, necessary and happening every day across party lines, economic lines and religious lines. Abortion is also legal and, contrary to what the pundit economy would have you believe, not particularly controversial. According to the Pew Research Center, nearly 70 percent of all Americans oppose overturning Roe v. Wade, while 75 percent of Democrats believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases. These are not numbers that indicate controversy.”
West argued that “abortion does draw certain groups to the polls. But that is why Republicans vote; it’s not why Democrats vote:”
So what does it say that so many lefty men are willing to scrap it in an attempt to pander to some vague fantasy of a vast, disgruntled, anti-choice center? What kind of cringing, bewildered invertebrates roll over and capitulate to the losing side of a debate at a time when they’ve never had more leverage? What contortionist of logic came up with the proposal that alienating 75 percent of one’s constituents, and declaring half to not deserve control over their bodies, can strengthen a party’s numbers? This is not broadening our coalition; it’s flagrantly shrinking it.
There has never been a more opportune moment for the Democratic Party to demand compromise — not from the left but from the center. What are anti-choice Democrats going to do? Become Republicans? Now? Jump into the abattoir of clown meat whose top policy priority seems to be “poor people deserve to die of preventable diseases”?
“Come on, Democrats,” she concluded. “Be something. Unite and move left. The center will follow or lose.”
Planned Parenthood’s Cecile Richards and pro-choice activists praised the op-ed:
"What good is an economic opportunity if large swaths of the population can’t access it?" Hear hear! https://t.co/xUfKclzmDa
— Cecile Richards (@CecileRichards) August 2, 2017
Lindy West is dead right. As she notes, there can be no economic equality without ability to terminate pregnancy https://t.co/IRLmnc9hNI
— Wendy Davis (@wendydavis) August 2, 2017
Others criticized it:
'Of Course Democrats Should Bury Their Heads In The Sand And Keep Getting Walloped' would be a better headline. https://t.co/hRtLjiDmp7
— Kristan Hawkins (@KristanHawkins) August 3, 2017
— Stephen Schneck (@StephenSchneck) August 3, 2017