Sen. Bob Casey (D., Pa.) bills himself as a pro-life Democrat, but that didn’t stop Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) from celebrating abortion rights at his campaign’s canvassing kick-off event Sunday.
Casey’s campaign is taking on Rep. Lou Barletta, a staunchly pro-life Republican who’s received the endorsement of prominent pro-life groups. Warren was rallying Casey volunteers by going through agenda items from health care to student loan debt, and eventually to abortion rights.
"And here’s one for 2018—how many of you are here because you believe a woman ought to have the right to make her own decisions about her body?" she asked, to applause from the group.
The cheers might confuse those who support Casey in part because he maintains he is a Democratic holdout on the issue of abortion, which the party’s platform vigorously supports. Warren, however, considers the effort to reelect Casey part of the fight to defend Roe v. Wade, which may reflect the fact that Casey received a 100 percent rating from NARAL Pro-Choice America in 2016 and 2017.
Casey has supported funding for Planned Parenthood, arguing that it helps keep abortion numbers down by providing contraception and other services. He has voted with Planned Parenthood 75 percent of the time since 2011, but he defends his record as pro-life by pointing to his vote in favor of a 20-week abortion ban, according to Politico.
That 20-week ban was successfully filibustered by Democrats and GOP Sens. Susan Collins (Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), but Casey and two other Democrats crossed the aisle to vote for the ban. With a 51-46 majority, the bill was not able to get past the filibuster, which requires 60 votes to overcome.
Warren voted against the ban and has been one of the most vocal advocates of abortion in the Senate.
Casey has voted with Democrats on other issues that are commonly seen important to the pro-life cause, most notably the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch. While Gorsuch followed precedent by not announcing policy positions, his originalist jurisprudence is supported by conservatives who consider Roe an example of judicial activism. While Gorsuch didn’t get Casey’s vote, he was confirmed to the Court with unanimous Republican support and the backing of three other Democratic senators.
Casey’s support for Planned Parenthood and voting record on the issue has kept pro-life groups such as the Susan B. Anthony List from supporting him. The one prominent pro-life group that supports him is Democrats for Life, which still opposes his position on Planned Parenthood.
"He is absolutely a pro-life Democrat," Democrats for Life executive director Kristen Day said. "Planned Parenthood funding — that’s the one area of disagreement. But he’s still a pro-life Democrat."
His opponent Barletta, however, said Casey has moved far to the left on this issue. In July, he even said Casey’s record resembles Warren’s.