On Monday, the chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Rep. Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) said that a candidate’s stance on abortion access would not be a “litmus test” for running in the Democratic party.
Progressives and abortion rights activists heartily disagree, and Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, the oldest organization fighting for abortion rights in the U.S., wrote a powerful response to Luján’s comments in an essay for Vox.
Hogue explained why progressive politicians should not be supporting anti-choice candidates, and why fighting back against the Trump administration in the 2018 elections cannot come at the cost of women’s health care.
“Like many members of my generation, I felt that the fight for abortion rights was over and that I could focus my efforts elsewhere, such as environmental activism,” Hogue wrote. Like many women who became politically active post-Roe v. Wade, Hogue thought the fight for abortion rights appeared to be over. But as Hogue traveled world for other activist pursuits, and watched reproductive health care get thrown under the bus in Obamacare, she soon realized that access to abortion was still something that had to be fought for.
In her essay, Hogue writes about her frustration with the Democratic party’s acceptance of centrist candidates who don’t actively support abortion access and reproductive justice, and it’s a topic she’s voiced concern about before.
Back in April, when progressive hero Bernie Sanders endorsed Omaha mayoral candidate Health Mello, thus overlooking his background of anti-choice legislation, Hogue went on a Twitter rant that quickly went viral.
“Do better, Dems,” she wrote in the tweetstorm. “These are real women w/real families that u hurt when u see our very beings as negotiable properties to win elections, she said in April.”
Three months later, she stands by her belief that the Democrats cannot win without women. And that means fighting for their access to safe and legal abortion ― and not investing in candidates who won’t.
“We need to stick with our base of pro-choice women,” Hogue writes.
After all, as she points out, it was women who organized the largest protest in American history after the inauguration of Donald Trump.
Leaving those women behind, Hogue says, is not the way to win against Trump and his administration ― especially because “there is no evidence that opposition to legal abortion” was why he won.
Rather, it was much more a product of “social anxiety born of a changing society” and “a reluctance to accept changing demographics and an antipathy towards immigrants and racial minorities,” Hogue said.
Sexism is undoubtedly a part of that social anxiety, and Hogue makes the point Democrats have a responsibility to ensure that women’s rights ― like those of minorities, immigrants, and the socioeconomically disadvantaged ― don’t get left behind.
“A party that purports to represent the real diverse lives of a changing America undercuts its own credibility when it continues to speak of economic security and reproductive rights as completely disconnected,” she writes.
“The basic fact is that as a party, Democrats can’t fight Trump without women.”
Head over to Vox to read Hogue’s whole essay.
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This article originally appeared on HuffPost.