Conor Lamb’s abortion stance is a non-controversy

Conor Lamb’s abortion stance is a non-controversy
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Conor Lamb’s extraordinary win in this week’s special election, along with recent wins in Alabama and Virginia, prove that when it comes to Democrats supporting abortion rights in conservative areas, there is no controversy.

Although Republicans point to Lamb’s personal views on abortion as proof of his conservatism, his public position on abortion made it clear that his private beliefs would not deter him from “defend[ing] the law as it is.” Lamb is on record saying he’d vote against a 20-week abortion ban and that his personal views would not “legally restrict a woman’s legal right to choose.” 

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Despite the spin following this week’s vote, Lamb’s support for legal abortion was a non-issue in this race, even in a district that has been solidly red in past election cycles. Indeed, Lamb’s personal stance on abortion received more attention in the days following voting than it did during the entire campaign. That’s an important lesson for Democrats, particularly those arguing that the party should adopt a big tent approach to this issue or those supporting policies that erode women’s rights and access to abortion.

 

There’s no good reason for Democratic lawmakers in any district to eschew public support for abortion rights. This week’s Democratic victory in a district that Trump won by 20 points demonstrates that support for abortion rights isn’t controversial or something for Democrats run away from. To the contrary, voters have rewarded those who keep politicians out of women’s health decisions.

That’s because the vast majority of Americans have long settled any debate over legal abortion. In total, close to seven in 10 Americans support legal access to abortion, according to the latest polling by Pew Research Center. Among Democrats, 75 percent say abortion should be legal in all or most cases, and among moderate-leaning Democrats, support remains at 61 percent. Even among Republicans, 53 percent say the landmark Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade should not be overturned.

Given this widespread support, it’s clear that the few Democrats who still refuse to support the legal right to abortion and vote for policies that restrict safe access to abortion are stuck in a debate about legality that has long been resolved. Keystone Progress and other progressive leaders across the country have made this case to the DNC. We will be looking to our party’s leaders locally and nationally, and urge Democrats to move on from debates around legality to a discussion about protecting access.

Democratic lawmakers should advance policies that ensure every woman can actually get the access to abortion that makes the legal right meaningful and equitable. This includes measures like repealing the Hyde Amendment, which bans federal money from being used to fund abortion, and proposals that recognize abortion access as the key to providing all women with the power to control their own lives and futures. 

As Lamb’s victory demonstrates, this isn’t a question of personal beliefs, but one of policies. We need leaders who will support progressive policies that trust women and families — not politicians — to make the best decisions for themselves.

Dan Doubet is executive director of Keystone Progress Education Fund.