In the run-up to the midterm elections last year, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) reaffirmed its supposed commitment to diversity, saying “As Democrats, we value inclusion … we know that in order to expand opportunities for all Americans, all Americans must have a seat at the table.” Don’t tell Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D–N.Y.).
Flailing in her longshot bid for the presidency and looking to brandish her progressive credentials in a political party that increasingly views abortion as a sacrament, Gillibrand is now working overtime to assure voters that, if elected president, pro-life Americans will not be included at her table—or on her shortlist of judicial nominees.
In an interview with the Des Moines Register editorial board, Gillibrand defended litmus tests for judges and justices based on their promise to uphold abortion rights, comparing pro-life points of view to racism and anti-Semitism in the process.
“There’s some issues that have such moral clarity that we have as a society decided that the other side is not acceptable,” said Gillibrand. “Imagine saying that it’s okay to appoint a judge who’s racist or anti-Semitic or homophobic. Asking someone to appoint someone who takes away basic human rights of any group of people in America—I don’t think that those are political issues anymore.”
Such attempts to delegitimize and demean the millions of Americans that Gillibrand would be entrusted to serve as president are enough to make even crass attack dogs like President Trump blush. It is hardly a winning strategy, either. Consider that polling released just this year shows that 80 percent of Americans support greater restrictions to abortion and one-third of Democrats say they are pro-life.
These remarks aren’t just insensitive and untrue; they also show a painful unawareness of the abortion rights movement’s history of racism and bigotry. Even the pro-abortion publication Rewire laments Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger’s “virulent ableism and classism.” This is putting it lightly.
“The most urgent problem today is how to limit and discourage the over-fertility of the mentally and physically defective,” wrote Sanger in 1921. “We do not want word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population,” she explained in 1939.
Lest this sound like the accusations of a far-right conspiratorialist, progressive author and activist Gloria Steinem acknowledged the early abortion advocate’s roots in eugenics, writing in an essay for Time magazine: “[Sanger] also adopted the mainstream eugenics language of the day … her misjudgments should cause us to wonder what parallel errors we are making now.”
Sadly, such bigoted and dehumanizing sentiments are still felt in the abortion rights movement today when 79 percent of Planned Parenthood clinics are operating near minority communities, according to the Life Issues Institute. We were given a fresh reminder just this week of the cynical view of human life that is all too common among abortion proponents when the publisher of ExaminerLive, a UK-based news outlet with more than 100,000 Facebook followers, advocated for abortion as a means of population control.
“A quick google search reveals in a single day in America 11,000 babies are born but only 7,000 people die,” Lauren Ballinger explained on Twitter. “We should be making it easier for unwanted pregnancies to be terminated.”
In the end, perhaps seeking to cut off debate by linking pro-life Americans to racism and anti-Semitism is the easiest path for Gillibrand, even if she knows it is wildly false. To do otherwise would force her to confront the unmistakable evidence of each preborn child’s humanity and the abortion industry’s heartbreaking past and present.
When pro-life Americans are waved off as bigoted religious zealots or worse, those who condone the violence of abortion are freed from any responsibility to provide a thoughtful defense of their belief. Such tactics can galvanize the base in Democratic presidential primaries, but it surely won’t help in a general election—something Gillibrand won’t have to worry about.
Michael Wear, who led religious outreach for President Barack Obama’s 2012 campaign and later served in his administration, said as much this week, lamenting Democrats’ full-on embrace of taxpayer-funded abortion in an interview with the Washington Post. “Far left, pro-choice groups have pressured these candidates to make a decision that will cost them votes, potentially cost us the White House and won’t cause any policy outcomes,” he explained.
Until Democrats seriously engage pro-life Americans’ arguments, instead of simply attacking their character, and contend with the dark history of the abortion industry to which they remain beholden, they will fail to live up to their own stated commitments to diversity and inclusion. Worse for them, they might just hand President Trump a reelection victory in the process.