Rich White Liberals’ Abortion Litmus Test is Unpopular and Disastrous

Kristen Day writes:

While some abortion-rights activists believe that economic justice and equality require that poor women abort their children, pro-life Democrats believe that we can and must do better for poor and working-class women. According to the Guttmacher Institute, 75 percent of women seeking abortion are poor or low-income. No woman should ever feel obligated to choose abortion because of her economic circumstances. Women deserve a better alternative. People on both sides of the abortion debate should agree on this point.

Some have charged that allowing anti-abortion Democrats to run in pro-life districts is a way of ignoring the wishes of the poor, women, and African-Americans. The evidence, however, shows that support for a small-tent strategy is found predominantly among affluent white liberals. One poll finds that just 7 percent of African-American Democrats support a small-tent approach, compared to 35 percent of white Democrats. Poor and working-class Democrats, likewise, are more likely to oppose an abortion litmus test than are Democrats in the highest income brackets. And fewer Democratic women favor exclusively restricting Democratic Party support to proponents of legal abortion than Democratic men do, rejecting this approach by a two-to-one margin.

Overall, a strong majority of Democrats oppose an exclusive abortion litmus test. Only inside an elite bubble that is disconnected from the larger part of the Democratic base that is not wealthy and white can one believe that the base wants to sacrifice every other issue for exclusive ideological purity on abortion…

Despite the many flaws and failings of President Donald Trump and Congressional Republicans, the status quo approach will not produce a large, sustainable majority for the Democratic Party. Democrats across the spectrum recognize this problem.

To avoid the prospect of continued Republican dominance, Democrats can try to double down on a strategy that is designed to appeal to affluent white voters and recruit pro-business candidates who support abortion-on-demand. Alternatively, the Democratic Party can restore its big-tent approach on abortion, recruit strong candidates who will address economic inequality and injustice, and rebuild the party around a shared commitment to economic justice for all Americans.