- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 23, 2017

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi downplayed the significance of the right to an abortion as a cause that unites Democrats, emphasizing instead the party’s stance on economic policy and commitment to the working class.

Asked Sunday whether there’s room in the party for pro-life politicians, the staunchly pro-choice California lawmaker responded, “Of course.”

“I have served many years in Congress with members who have not shared my very positive — my family would say ‘aggressive’ — position on promoting a woman’s right to choose,” Ms. Pelosi said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

The remark comes after Sen. Bernie Sanders, Vermont Independent, stumped on Thursday for Omaha mayoral candidate Heath Mello, a Democrat who supported pro-life legislation as a Nebraska senator.

Mr. Mello initially received an endorsement in the May 9 election from the Daily Kos, a progressive website, but lost it after his pro-life voting record, which includes co-sponsoring the state’s 20-week abortion ban, came to light.

He has since clarified his stance on the question of abortion, telling the Huffington Post that he is personally pro-life but “would never do anything to restrict access to reproductive health care” as mayor.

That did little to placate Mr. Mello’s pro-choice detractors.

Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, slammed the Democratic National Committee for including an “anti-choice candidate” on its “Come Together and Fight Back” tour.

“The actions today by the DNC to embrace and support a candidate for office who will strip women — one of the most critical constituencies for the party—of our basic rights and freedom is not only disappointing, it is politically stupid,” Ms. Hogue said in a statement. “Today’s action make this so-called ‘fight back tour’ look more like a throw back tour for women and our rights.”

Mr. Sanders defended his decision Sunday to campaign for Mr. Mello, saying the “choice is clear” in the Omaha race. In the wake of overwhelming Republican gains at the state and federal levels, he said the “Democratic Party has got to change.”

“And in my view, what it has got to become is a grassroots party, a party that makes decisions from the bottom on up, a party that is more dependent on small donations than large donations,” Mr. Sanders told John Dickerson on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “A party, John, that speaks to the pain of the working class in this country.”

The emphasis on economics would be a shift from the party’s message during the presidential race, during which Mrs. Clinton often appealed to women’s issues and the historic nature of her candidacy.

Ms. Hogue said “it’s not possible to have an authentic conversation about economic security for women that does not include our ability to decide when and how we have children.”

But Ms. Pelosi, who once invoked her Catholic faith to defend the right to an abortion as “sacred ground,” failed to mention the pro-choice cause when listing the values that unite the Democratic Party.

“Our values unify us,” she said Sunday. “We are unified by our commitment to America’s working families. About job creation. About budget policies that invest in the future — good, paying jobs.”

• Bradford Richardson can be reached at brichardson@washingtontimes.com.

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