Bernie Sanders, Democrats, healthcare, Reproductive rights, Women — April 22, 2017 at 8:07 am

Bernie Sanders Kicks off Big Debate over Reproductive Rights


The Democratic Party is a big-tent party, which I think is one of its strengths. And I’m not a big fan of one-size-fits-all litmus tests.

But Bernie Sanders’ decision to endorse and champion Omaha mayoral candidate Heath Mello, who opposes abortion rights, and question the progressive cred of Jon Ossoff, the rising (pro-choice) star running for Congress in Georgia, has provoked a big debate.

Several Sanders supporters and political journalists have lamented the apparent intolerance Democrats have for those who are “pro-life.” Of course, there are still Democratic officials across the country who oppose abortion rights. And in Michigan, Right to Life has always had great success in backing legislative Democrats who fit their endorsement criteria. But it’s true that there are fewer anti-abortion rights Democrats now. I would also note that pro-choice Republican officeholders have gone the way of the Dodo. Seriously, try to name one in Michigan.

But I think all that is largely missing the point. The heart of the anti-Donald Trump Resistance is women. And that’s why there was a visceral reaction to Sanders deciding that progressives can be anti-choice. First of all, in a big tent, no one person gets to proclaim what’s progressive and what’s not — especially someone who just reiterated again that he’s not a Democrat. Many liberals also are wondering why Sanders has drawn a line in the sand against those who support free trade or don’t talk enough about income inequality, but not against those who don’t believe women have the right to control their own bodies. Sanders has every right to define his version of progressivism in purely economic terms. But journalists and other members of the big tent can question this idea.

And people can — and should — ask why it is that women’s rights can be jettisoned so easily.