Democratic Attorneys General Group Will Only Support Pro-Abortion Candidates

(Updated)

Attorney General of Pennsylvania Joshua Shapiro/ Facebook

The Democratic Attorneys General Association (DAGA) on Monday announced that it will only endorse candidates who publicly support "reproductive rights and access to abortion."

The association said that candidates can expect financial contributions only if they share the association's pro-abortion views. 

"The committee will only financially support candidates who are publicly committed to protecting reproductive rights," the group said.

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DAGA hopes the litmus test will "attract more diverse candidates and increase the number of women who run for the office," according to the New York Times.  

Former North Dakota attorney general Heidi Heitkamp (D.) expressed opposition to the litmus test. She pointed to Louisiana governor John Bel Edwards, a pro-life Democrat who won reelection on Saturday. 

"There are very principled people, who are Democrats, who feel very strongly about this issue for religious reasons," Heitkamp said. "And when you say you're not welcome in our party I think it is exclusionary. You have to look at the totality of a candidate."

DAGA's announcement is part of a larger shift to the left on abortion among Democrats over the past several years. Each of the leading 2020 Democratic presidential candidates vocally supports abortion, refusing to explicitly back legal limits on the practice and collectively pushing a platform of aggressively pro-choice laws.

This shift has caused division within the party during previous elections. In 2017, Sen. Bernie Sanders sparked a heated debate within the Democratic party by endorsing pro-life Democrat Heath Mello for mayor of Omaha, Neb. Many progressive activists condemned the move, saying that there was no room in the party for opponents of abortion.

In 2018, pro-life congressman Dan Lipinski (D., Ill.) came under similar fire, only narrowly beating progressive pro-abortion candidate Marie Newman in a primary election. Newman criticized Lipinski for not being "a real Democrat," telling Vox that "to be a real Democrat, you have to believe in the platform."

Lipinski told National Review in January that he does not agree that his pro-life position means he is not in line with the Democratic party.

"I'm a Democrat because I believe the government needs to help people who are in need in some way," Lipinski said. "And to me, protecting the unborn is part of that."

Lipinski faces the same challenge in 2020, as Newman has rallied support for another run from liberals and pro-abortion organizations.

The Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA) in a statement denounced DAGA’s "extremist pledge." RAGA said the proposal dismisses pro-life voters and is merely an effort to collect funds from interest groups.

"The only litmus test for an attorney general should be a belief in the rule of law and the courage to defend and uphold the constitution," RAGA said. "The Democrats demonstrated once again how out of touch and desperate they are to receive funding from dangerously progressive special interest groups who support using hard-earned taxpayer dollars to fund late-term and third-trimester abortions."

Updated Nov. 19, 11:16 a.m.: This post was updated to include a statement from the Republican Attorneys General Association.