Former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton responded to a question about the controversy over pro-life Democratic candidates in a new interview by insisting that abortion is a "fundamental human right."
Clinton's comment came in an interview with the lifestyle magazine Refinery29 that was released concurrently with her new book, What Happened. Clinton's memoir covering the 2016 campaign has prompted negative reactions from prominent Democrats, who say they want to focus on the future instead of the past.
"Do you feel that abortion litmus tests are necessary for the Democratic Party in red states?" interviewer Arianna Davis asked Clinton.
Davis was referring to the ongoing debate within the Democratic Party about whether it should support candidates who profess pro-life views, especially in more conservative states. The controversy was prompted by Sen. Bernie Sanders' (I., Vt.) support for a mayoral candidate in Omaha, Neb., Heath Mello, who identified as pro-life; the move earned a sharp rebuke from Democratic National Committee chair Tom Perez. Since then, numerous public Democrats have weighed in on both sides of the argument.
For her part, Clinton did not explicitly endorse a litmus test, but came down strongly in support of abortion.
"I have to say that I am proud to be a Democrat, and I'm proud of all the progress that's happened in my own lifetime. And I will continue to advocate for the policies of the Democratic Party," Clinton said.
"But I don't think it's either/or. You need a very strong economic message, which I think I had, but it was hard to get through," she continued. "And you need to stand up for human rights, social justice, and civil rights. And a woman's right to control her body and her health care decisions is a fundamental human right."
Clinton pointed to "personally" pro-life Democrats, like her running mate Sen. Tim Kaine (D., Va.), who leave their moral convictions at the door when holding public office.
"One of the reasons I was proud to have Tim Kaine on my ticket is that he's personally opposed to abortion, he's a practicing Catholic, but he like Mario Cuomo long before recognized that you have to protect the rights of individuals to make the most important and intimate decisions," Clinton said. "And reproductive rights are important in order to make clear that we want to give women a choice."