Pelosi rejects litmus test on abortion

Pelosi rejects litmus test on abortion
© Greg Nash
House Minority Leader Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiDemocrats should rise above and unify against Trump's tweets 10 questions for Robert Mueller Ocasio-Cortez tears into Trump's immigration agenda: 'It's about ethnicity and racism' MORE (D-Calif.) on Tuesday rejected the notion that Democrats should impose litmus tests on candidates when it comes to hot-button social issues such as abortion.
 
Taking questions from students at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., Pelosi said the Democrats’ broader goal of winning the House is more important than the views of any one candidate on a particular issue.
 
In contests in which both the Democratic and Republican candidates oppose abortion, “we would support the Democrat,” she said, “in order to get that gavel to protect all the other rights that we have.” 
 
“I get some heat for saying that not everybody has to be [pro-abortion rights],” Pelosi said during the forum, hosted by Georgetown’s Institute of Politics and Public Service. “When the day comes when we can say we don’t want any of our voters to be anti-choice, then I think we’d have a right to say that we don’t want any of our candidates to be anti-choice.”
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That position, which echoes similar remarks Pelosi made last year, risks alienating the liberal abortion rights groups that occupy a key part of the Democratic base. And Pelosi, known as a fierce defender of women's reproductive rights, was quick to emphasize that the party on the whole will fight to maintain and expand those freedoms in the face of Republican efforts to roll them back.
 
“Having said no litmus test, it’s a very high priority for us to protect a woman’s right to choose,” she said.
 
But doing so more effectively, Pelosi said, will mean retaking power in Congress — an effort that will, at times, require broadening the tent to include some anti-abortion Democrats. 
 
“I always tell our candidates, ‘Your job description and your job title are one and the same: representative,’” she said.
 
Pelosi eluded to her recent backing of Rep. Daniel LipinskiDaniel William LipinskiThe Hill's Morning Report - 2020 jitters hit both parties in the Senate Justice Democrats issues 3 new endorsements for progressive candidates GOP scores procedural win by securing more funding to enforce Iran sanctions MORE (D), a seven-term abortion opponent in Illinois, who survived a tough primary contest last month from a liberal challenger who made reproductive rights central to her campaign.
 
“I supported him. I took heat for it. He’s pro-life,” Pelosi said. “But we will have a pro-choice gavel when we win the Congress. We need to have at least 218 votes to achieve that. 
 
“This isn’t a pragmatic decision, it’s just a respectful position.”
 
The issue of abortion rights has sometimes posed a challenge for Pelosi, an Italian Catholic raised in Baltimore who has taken fire from the church for decades of championing women’s reproductive rights. She acknowledged those criticisms on Tuesday, noting the Jesuit traditions of the university where she spoke. 
 
“I know this is touchy on this campus — on all Catholic campuses. … And it’s an issue in the diocese,” Pelosi said. “But the fact is, God gave us all the free will [and] our sense of responsibility to answer for that. So I am a rabid supporter of a woman’s right to choose and a similar issue of the LGBT community, because they are connected.”
 
The young crowd responded with the loudest applause of the morning. 
 
Pelosi warned that, with Republicans in power, women are at risk of losing their reproductive freedoms. She speculated that many religious-minded voters flocked to President TrumpDonald John TrumpLiz Cheney: 'Send her back' chant 'inappropriate' but not about race, gender Booker: Trump is 'worse than a racist' Top Democrat insists country hasn't moved on from Mueller MORE for the sole purpose of ensuring the courts are stacked with conservative judges who would oppose abortion and LGBT rights.
 
“They can look the other way on so many things that are not part of a social agenda for the good of our community for that one issue,” she said. “And so it is at risk. It is at risk.”