Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) doesn't see a future for people who believe in protecting the rights of the unborn in his vision of the Democratic Party.
At a presidential candidate forum in New Hampshire on Saturday, Sanders was asked, "Is there such a thing as a pro-life Democrat in your vision of the party?"
Sanders responded in the negative, saying, "I think being pro-choice is an absolutely essential part of being a Democrat, if you're asking me," to applause and cheers from the audience.
"And I may be wrong on this, I think, in the Senate probably 95% of the Democrats are pro-choice, you have a few who are not," Sanders continued, adding that there is "maybe even a higher percentage" of pro-abortion Democrats in the House of Representatives.
"So that's kind of what my view is," Sanders concluded. "I think by this time in history, I think, when we talk about what a Democrat is, I think being pro-choice is essentially, an essential part of that."
Princeton University professor Robert George took to Twitter to condemn Sanders' remarks as "officially excommunicating pro-life Democrats." He added "So, if you're pro-life you are unacceptable, unwanted, an intruder. Time to go elsewhere."
Sanders is currently one of the front-runners for the Democratic Party's 2020 presidential nomination. His comments about the future of pro-lifers in the party follow similar remarks from fellow top contender, former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who was confronted on his abortion stance by Pro-Life Democrats executive director Kristen Day late last month.
"I am a proud pro-life Democrat. So, do you want the support of pro-life Democrats, pro-life Democratic voters? There are about 21 million of us," Day asked of the former mayor. "And if so, would you support more moderate platform language in the Democratic Party to ensure that the party of diversity and inclusion really does include everybody?"
Buttigieg wouldn't say whether he would support more moderate abortion platform language, but he did respond that "if we can't agree on where to draw the line, the next best thing we can do is agree on who should draw the line and in my view it's the woman who's faced with that decision in her own life."
Sanders' and Buttigieg's comments speak to a much larger and far-reaching trend among Democrats. The space for pro-life Democrats keeps getting smaller and smaller in the party. The overall trend of the party abandoning the bygone mantra of "safe, legal, and rare" for a far more unapologetic and extreme stance has been well documented over the last few years. Indeed, supporting for the protection of unborn life is becoming a more and more precarious position for elected Democrats.
Meanwhile, the Democratic Party's leftward push on abortion appears to be leaving a lot of its voters behind, as polling suggests that a Democratic Party removed of pro-life viewpoints would alienate more than just a minor fringe. Gallup polling conducted in May 2019 showed that 29% of Democrats identified as "pro-life." And while it found that a smaller percentage of Democrats identified as "pro-life," Marist polling conducted in January found that 44% of Democrats favor restrictions on abortions ranging from limiting it to the first three months of a pregnancy to not allowing it under any circumstances.