A pro-abortion writer and author believes that the Democratic Party needs to take a step back from its extreme stance in support of abortion and embrace more pro-life candidates if the party hopes to compete again on a national stage.
In an op-ed for Paste Magazine, author Stephen Markley, who describes himself as a supporter of legal abortion, wrote that the pro-choice position of the Democratic Party "deserves greater scrutiny than it often gets" because the Democratic Party's far-left stance on abortion disqualifies pro-choice Democrats from receiving the support of much needed voters in rural states.
"Post-election, there have been no shortage of self-flagellating liberal critiques about how the Democrats must reach out to working class whites and abandon Wall Street and bad trade deals. They have ignored the plight of the rural white voter," Markley wrote. "This, however, ignores the primary cultural issue that keeps most of those voters incapable of even contemplating anything but a Republican vote. Nowhere has there been any self-reflective take that Democrats must see the error of their ways on abortion."
Markley explains that President-elect Donald Trump won the presidential election not because he expanded the Republican electorate, but rather because of "a lag in Democratic voting in key states" and "by holding together the same coalition of economic royalists and pro-life, mostly Evangelical voters who have formed the backbone of the Republican electorate in every election of my lifetime."
While Clinton was unabashed in her support of late-term abortions and the repeal of bans against taxpayer funding, Trump vowed to support initiatives that polls show are supported by a majority of the American population — defunding Planned Parenthood, passing a 20-week late-term abortion ban and making bans against taxpayer-funded abortions (Hyde Amendment and Helms Amendment) permanent law that do not need to be renewed every year.
Markley states that one of the problems with the abortion debate is that it consists of "several myths."
One of those myths, Markley believes, is the notion that most people are either pro-life or pro-choice with no middle ground in between.
However, a Gallup poll from earlier this year shows that only 29 percent of Americans believe that abortion should be legal in all circumstances, while 50 percent of the nation believes that abortion should only be legal in certain scenarios and 19 percent of the nation believes abortion should not be legal at all.
"Unlike many other issues about which my generation has become vastly more left-wing than our parents or grandparents, abortion remains stuck in an even divide," Markley said. "While support for LGBT rights has skyrocketed, while notions of environmental protection and income inequality and war and peace and race have moved front and center, creating a burgeoning progressive majority in demographic terms, the needle on abortion has not moved at all."
He points out that fewer 18 to 34-year-olds identify as pro-choice than they did 15 years ago.
"There is some evidence that young people are even less accepting of abortion than their parents," he stressed.
As the Republican Party was successful in defending its majority in the Senate and House and now control both legislative houses and the White House, Markley believes that the Democratic Party is doing itself a disfavor by only supporting pro-choice candidates, especially considering the makeup of more conservative states and regions.
"For a long time after the issue hit the national stage in the 1970s, the parties did not divide evenly. There were pro-choice Republicans and pro-life Democrats," Markley wrote. "In the 2006 midterm elections, Democrats won a 31-seat majority with 37 pro-life members."
"Then, during the 2010 midterms following Michigan congressman Bart Stupak's deal to keep abortion funding out of Obamacare, pro-life Democrats suffered enough defeats to basically wipe them off the map," he continued.
However, Markley points out that since the abortion issue rose to a national prominence, "the Democrats have never held a majority in either chamber of congress that did not include pro-life members."
"If the Democratic Party wants to be a big tent, it has to be big enough to support and elect pro-life candidates," he contended. "That is political reality. Even if demographics favor it in presidential election years (and a fat lot of good that did in 2016), in the House, the Senate, and most state legislatures it is, paradoxically, going to be impossible to challenge anti-abortion dominance without pro-life candidates."
While some think the solution to the Democratic Party's woes in the 2016 election is shifting away from "corporate-friendly attitudes and policies towards a true progressive vision," Markley asserted that "ideologically lockstep candidates will continue to perform weakly where the Democrats are weak."
"Voters in non-urban centers will continue to vote for candidates who oppose abortion the way they have been doing their entire lives," he explained.
Although the organization Democrats for Life of America holds that one out of three Democrats are pro-life, Erin Matson, an abortion activist who served on the board of directors of the pro-choice National Organization for Women, argued in an op-ed posted by Rewire that "this is not time to abandon the current Democratic Party platform."
The current Democratic Party Platform is arguably the most extreme the party's platform has ever been in terms of abortion, as it calls to repeal the highly supported Hyde and Helms amendments that prohibit taxpayer funds from being used to perform abortions.
Matson argued that the Democratic Party should not create a "big tent on abortion that would welcome with open arms those who vote to restrict reproductive rights."
"There must be no equivocation about our commitment to reproductive health, rights, and justice," Matson writes. "And there is no such thing as justice — economic justice, gender justice, racial justice — without reproductive justice, defined by SisterSong as the right to parent, the right not to parent, and the right to safe and healthy communities."
"A strong, proactive stance toward bodily autonomy embraced by the Democratic Party did not lose at the ballot box this presidential election," she continued. "In fact, this progress is something to celebrate and continue."
Although Matson praised the effort to put a call to repeal the Hyde and Helms amendments in the Democratic Platform and argued that it is something to be celebrated, Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.V., said at the time that "it's something that I know most of the Democrats in West Virginia and most West Virginians would not agree with. I don't either."