Opinion: Perez and pro-lifers

Stephen D'Abreau

Tom Perez, current Democratic National Committee chair, is a very influential new leader in the Democratic Party as it tries to regroup after the losses of the 2016 election cycle.

However, Perez said something that Democrats should find very alarming last Friday. According to Perez, “Every Democrat, like every American, should support a woman’s right to make her own choices about her body and her health … That is not negotiable and should not change city by city or state by state.” He continued, saying, “(Democrats must make sure) Democratic candidates and elected leaders are living up to these fundamental values.”

So in other words, defending abortion is both a “fundamental value” and “not negotiable” issue within the new Democratic chair’s vision for the party.

Obviously, I don’t find this surprising at all. Pro-lifers like me, no matter how otherwise like-minded to Democrats we are, have never really had a place at the table in the Democrat Party.

But in swing states, especially in the South and Midwest, Democrats have often been able to provide pro-life candidates that beat their Republican opponents by taking away a normally reliable, conservative-leaning voting cohort.

Gallup polls report that even though there is a common perception that the pro-choice position is more popular, the reality is the country is very evenly split on the issue.

The perception is that the majority of women are pro-choice and that maintaining this position can entice female voters is widely inaccurate, according to Gallup’s numbers.

The numbers from 2016 show that 47 percent of Americans are pro-choice while 46 percent lean the opposite way. The numbers are similarly split when viewed on the basis of gender.

In reality, abortion is a highly contentious issue, and a 2014 Gallup poll suggests over one-fourth of professed Democrats (28 percent) identify as pro-life.

So, Perez actually has two problems on his hands.

Most Americans believe abortion should be illegal in some, most or all cases, with fewer than 25 of Americans believing abortion should be legal in all cases.

It’s a tough sell to call abortion rights a “fundamental value” for “every Democrat,” much less for “every American”.

To call it non-negotiable not only poorly represents Americans and his party, but this hard-line stance threatens Democrats most directly in virtually all the battleground states they have lost over the last 10 years.

No matter where you land on the issue, you cannot come to the political discourse with agenda of none negotiation. It hurts the political discourse as a whole, needlessly frustrating the conversation.

However, it also is another perfect example of how Democrats have accumulated all these loses as of late; the party leadership is out of touch with the people they claim to represent, and they don’t even seem to know it.

As a former-Obama-supporter-turned-third-party voter in 2016 and a pro-life person in a battleground state, I know this kind of rhetoric from the party I used to support will not win me back –and I’m not alone.

Stephen D’Abreau is a columnist, contact him at [email protected].