Democrats' top candidates offer no option on abortion

WASHINGTON (BP) -- Democrats have plenty of choices for a presidential nominee in 2020 but not when it comes to the abortion issue.

As of March 4, 195 candidates had filed with the Federal Election Commission for the Democratic nomination for president, according to Ballotpedia. They are seeking to be the nominee of a party committed to abortion rights.

No maverick exists on the issue among a dozen leading, announced Democratic candidates. In fact, no competitor among that group who is serving in Congress or has done so in the past has cast a vote against abortion, according to the scorecards available from the National Right to Life Committee (NLRC).

Eight of these 12 candidates are so devoted to assuring a dead child is the result of every abortion attempt that they have opposed congressional legislation to protect a baby who survives the procedure. All six United States senators in the race voted Feb. 25 against the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, a bill that would require health care for a child born alive during an abortion. Their "nay" votes left them and the other 38 Democratic members who joined them as apparent easy targets for the charge of supporting infanticide.

For the distinct minority of Democrats who describe themselves as pro-life, the party and its presidential candidates offer a bleak picture.

Among the leading, announced candidates, "I don't see any distinction," said Kristen Day, executive director of Democrats for Life of America (DFLA).

DFLA is left in this election cycle with hoping one or more candidates "will agree to alter the platform and say that pro-life Democrats are welcome in the party, because we recognize that none of them [who have announced] are going to take" a pro-life position, Day told Baptist Press in a phone interview.

"But from a pro-life Democrat perspective in the primary, [we can] pick the one that will at least say pro-life Democrats are welcome in the party," she said. "So I think that's the tactic that we're taking."

Several potential contenders have yet to announce whether they will run in 2020, including former Vice President Joe Biden, former Texas congressman Beto O'Rourke, former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe and the 2004 nominee and former Secretary of State John Kerry. All support abortion rights.

Here, in alphabetical order, is a look at 12 leading candidates who have announced their campaigns for the Democratic presidential nomination and their support for abortion rights:

Cory Booker
 
Cory Booker

The senator from New Jersey has a zero percent pro-life voting record since taking office in 2013, according to the NRLC. The former mayor of Newark voted against the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act in February.

Pete Buttigieg

Pete Buttigieg
 
The mayor of South Bend, Ind., and a veteran of the war in Afghanistan has no voting record on abortion rights but seemed to indicate to MSNBC his support for laws like a recently enacted New York measure that legalizes abortion until birth. Buttigieg, who is in a same-sex marriage, vetoed a rezoning ordinance last year that would have allowed a pro-life pregnancy center to locate adjacent to a proposed abortion clinic, according to the South Bend Tribune.

Julián Castro
 
Julián Castro

The former San Antonio mayor and Department of Housing and Urban Development secretary under President Obama seems to have said little in the public record on the issue but called for protecting the right to abortion in a January speech launching his campaign, the Austin American-Statesman reported. He opposed a Texas law to prohibit abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy, according to the San Antonio Express-News.

John Delaney
 
John Delaney

The former Maryland congressman received a score of zero from the NRLC during his three terms in the House of Representatives (2013 to 2019). He voted in 2018 against the House version of the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act.

Tulsi Gabbard
 
Tulsi Gabbard

The congresswoman from Hawaii has a zero percent rating from the NRLC while serving in the House since 2013. Last year, Gabbard opposed the House bill to provide health care to babies who survive abortions.

Kirsten Gillibrand

Kirsten Gillibrand
 
The second-term senator from New York has scored zero from the NRLC since entering the Senate in 2009. The pro-life organization also gave her a zero rating during her House service from 2o07 to 2009. Gillibrand voted in February against the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act.

Kamala Harris

Kamala Harris
 
The first-term senator from California has a score of zero from the NRLC since 2017. She opposed the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act in February. According to a transcript of her presidential launch speech, the former California attorney general said she will fight for an America in which "reproductive rights are not just protected by the Constitution of the United States but guaranteed in every state."

John Hickenlooper

John Hickenlooper
 
The former governor of Colorado (2011-2019) backs abortion rights and Planned Parenthood, the country's No. 1 abortion provider, according to The Denver Post. He has said a reason he would refuse to be part of a unity ticket with Republican John Kasich is because the former Ohio governor does not support Planned Parenthood, according to The Post. Hickenlooper opposed the new federal rule that eliminates family planning funds for organizations that perform or promote abortions.

Jay Inslee

Jay Inslee
 
The governor of Washington since 2013 had a zero percent rating from the NRLC while he served in the U.S. House from 1999 to 2012. His score during his first congressional term, 1993-95, was not available at the NRLC's website. He was endorsed by leading abortion rights organizations and opposed the Trump administration's new regulation that blocks family planning funds for organizations that perform or promote abortions.

Amy Klobuchar

Amy Klobuchar
 
The senator from Minnesota has a score of zero from the NRLC since joining the Senate in 2007. Klobuchar, who won election to her third Senate term in November, voted against the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act in February.

Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders
 
The senator from Vermont has received a zero score from the NRLC since joining the chamber in 2007. Sanders, an independent who caucuses with the Democrats, served in the House from 1991-2007. The NRLC gave him an 18 percent rating in both the 2001-02 and 2003-04 terms for his votes in support of bans on human cloning. He also had a score of five percent in the 1997-98 term for a vote against assisted suicide. His scores from 1991 to 1997 were not available at the NRLC's website. In February, Sanders -- who was elected to his third Senate term in November -- voted against the bill to provide health care to babies who survive abortions.

Elizabeth Warren

Elizabeth Warren
 
The senator from Massachusetts has gained a zero rating from the NRLC since her first term began in 2013. Warren, who won election to a second Senate term in November, opposed the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act in February.

In spite of the dismal field, DFLA's Day says pro-life Democrats cannot give up.

"We can't have just one party advocating for this," she told BP. "We can't let the Democratic Party go..., because it's not going to help the pro-life movement."

Tom Strode is Washington bureau chief for Baptist Press, the Southern Baptist Convention's news service. BP reports on missions, ministry and witness advanced through the Cooperative Program and on news related to Southern Baptists' concerns nationally and globally.
SIGNED UP FOR OUR NEWSLETTER? Get Baptist Press in your email by subscribing to our daily newsletter at bpnews.net/SubscribeBP.
Download Story