FORT WORTH, Texas -- During an MSNBC town hall on abortion rights last weekend, Democratic presidential front-runner Bernie Sanders was asked if he thought there was room in his party for pro-lifers.
His response? No.
"Being pro-choice is an absolutely essential part of being a Democrat," he said.
His comments were predictable, even banal for those of us who have witnessed the progressive left normalizing and quite literally celebrating the destruction of humans in their earliest stages of existence.
But they have to come as quite a shock to the millions of Americans who vote Democratic but identify as pro-life.
There are about 21 million of them.
I know more than a few. Political extremism on the left is excluding their views to the party's detriment -- and frankly, to the broader detriment of political culture and society.
Kristen Day, the executive director of Democrats for Life, personally encountered her party's intransigence on the issue of abortion just days before the Iowa caucuses.
At a forum with Democratic presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg, Day asked if Buttigieg wanted the support of people like her and if the candidate would support modifying the party platform to include language that recognizes a diversity of opinions about abortion among the party faithful.
While he was not so succinct as his fellow candidate from Vermont, Buttigieg's response was essentially the same.
There isn't room for diversity on this issue. Please move along.
At least he was polite.
Shortly thereafter, Day lamented the rejection of her party.
"As recently as 2008, the Democratic Party recruited 12 pro-life candidates to compete for congressional seats," she wrote in USA Today. "Today, things have changed."
She pointed to nationally representative data that suggests "a majority of the population supports banning late-term abortions after 20 weeks gestation." And she cited a recent Marist Poll which affirmed her contention that close to half of Democrats support abortion restrictions after the first trimester.
Buttigieg is not one of them.
Day calls his position extreme. She's right. Public polling proves that.
But his position is effectively the same as those held by most of the Democratic candidates who remain in the primary field: few restrictions on abortion, if any at all.
For her part, Elizabeth Warren has perhaps what is the clearest -- and most radical -- abortion platform.
She wants to prevent states from passing laws that restrict abortion access and would seek to repeal restrictions on when federal funds can be used to pay for abortions.
When she was asked during a November debate, whether a pro-life Democrat has a place in the party, she said, "I'm not here to try to drive anyone out of this party," but added, "I have made clear what I think the Democratic Party stands for."
Indeed. It stands for unfettered access to abortion, apparently, and woe to the woman or man who says otherwise.
Taking such an absolutist and exclusive position on the issue seems odd for a party that believes itself a champion of inclusiveness, not to mention social justice.
A common rejoinder from Democrats criticizing pro-life people on the right is that the GOP is pro-birth but doesn't want to help children after that. It's the Democrats, after all, who want to expand health insurance coverage, increase the minimum wage and "support" families through more government programming like universal pre-kindergarten.
But none of those programs will ever benefit people who, in the thinking of current party leaders, have no right to exist.
That's isn't inclusive. And it certainly isn't just. A party that fails to welcome people who think about life differently can't claim to be either.
About The Writer
Cynthia M. Allen is a columnist for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Readers may send her email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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