Planned Parenthood President and CEO Cecile Richards doubled down on her criticism of Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) in an interview with Politico published Tuesday, arguing that Democrats willing to fund pro-life candidates lack "principles."
Luján, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said last month that the DCCC will not withhold funding for pro-life Democratic House candidates in the 2018 elections. He also argued that Democrats should not impose “litmus tests” on candidates as the party seeks to regain a House majority in the midterm election.
The statement was met with controversy within the party. Some Democratic lawmakers such as New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand took aim at Luján’s decision, arguing that abortion should be a litmus test for the party. Meanwhile, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) argued that abortion should not be a litmus test.
Richards, chief executive of the nation’s largest abortion provider, heaped criticism on Democrats like Luján during an interview with Politico’s “Off Message” podcast.
Politico’s Edward-Isaac Dovere asked Richards if Luján and the leadership of the DCCC “just not get it” or if they’re making an effort to appeal to moderates and centrists.
“I have no idea what is in his mind. I haven’t talked to him,” Richards said. “But it’s a shocking sort of misunderstanding of actually, both where the country is at — which is overwhelmingly supportive of abortion rights — and also who are the ground troops who fuel the election of candidates.”
Richards argued “you can’t get elected in this country without the support of women, and that means women of all different stripes.
“Fundamentally, perhaps [what] he’s missing is, people can distinguish between their own personal feelings and what they believe government or politicians should do,” Richards said.
And people even in some of the most conservative areas of the country who may themselves personally say, ‘I would never choose to have an abortion,’ or, ‘That’s not something that’s right for me,’ also, absolutely do not believe politicians should be making decisions about pregnancy for women, and that’s essentially what we’re talking about. So, I think he’s totally wrong and believe me I’ll use every opportunity to convince him of that.
Richards also argued that “the danger of his remarks” is that they “send a terrible message to people across the country about sort of the lack of principles that perhaps some people in the Democratic Party stand up about.”
In a written statement provided Politico, Luján said:
My record of protecting a woman’s health care, her right to choose and her economic security is consistent with the fundamental tenets of the Democratic Party, and those values are at risk each day that Republicans control Washington. We must take back the House so that Democrats can legislate on the principles that our party holds dear. Primary voters will ask candidates where they stand on the issues and elect their Democratic nominees, and everyone must decide whether to support that Democrat over the Republican in the general election. The DCCC will fight every day to defeat as many Republicans as possible and take back the House.
Politico noted Luján has a “perfect voting record” on Planned Parenthood’s scorecard.