WASHINGTON, D.C. — After a Democratic congressman said he would like to see more support from the pro-life movement in his re-election bid, one national pro-life group said its support has kept the lawmaker in Congress, and committed to supporting his 2020 bid for reelection.
On Thursday, Rep. Dan Lipinski, D-Ill., a Catholic, eight-term congressman, and a co-chair of the Congressional Pro-Life Caucus, told CNA that he has not received as much support from the pro-life movement as he had hoped in his re-election campaign.
“I’ve gotten some support from pro-life groups, but honestly, not as much as I’d like to see,” Rep. Lipinski, who is fighting off primary challenger Marie Newman for the second election cycle in a row, told CNA.
“Some people in the pro-life movement do not seem to believe it’s that important to protect pro-life Democrats. And I think you just have to look at what the other side is doing, see the value that they place on defeating someone like me,” Rep. Lipinski said.
Rep. Lipinski also said his stance on other issues, such as his support for the impeachment of President Donald Trump, should have no bearing on the support he recieves from pro-life voters and groups.
But one pro-life group, the Susan B. Anthony List, told CNA that its get out-the-vote effort played the decisive role in Rep. Lipinski’s 2018 primary victory.
SBA List said it mobilized 70 canvassers to visit 17,000 “pro-life Democrat households” in the Illinois third district in the days leading up to the vote. The group spent more than $100,000 on Lipinski’s 2018 candidacy.
In a March 2018 Facebook video, Billy Valentine, SBA List’s vice president of public policy, called Rep. Lipinski “a Democrat who leads on the issue.”
“We can send an equally-strong message to pro-life Democrats that if you stand strong for the unborn, if you stand strong for mothers, we are going to defend you against the radical abortion lobby,” Valentine said in 2018.
SBA List told CNA on Friday that it will be devoting resources to support Rep. Lipinski’s 2020 primary campaign.
The organization also told CNA that while it did criticize House members who voted in December to impeach Trump, it did not intend to criticize Lipinski, who voted for the impeachment, directly or personally.
Other pro-life groups have also responded to Rep. Lipinski’s remarks.
Josh Mercer, co-founder of CatholicVote.org, told CNA Friday that his group is “proud to support him [Lipinski] and urge every Catholic in America -- Democrat or Republican -- to do the same.”
Tom McClusky, president of March for Life Action, tweeted his admiration for Rep. Lipinski, but noted that the congressman voted for the Equality Act, “which would overturn most pro-life laws, including the Hyde Amendment.”
I like Rep. Lipinski & admire how he has stood up to attacks on his record HOWEVER he seems to forget that last year he voted for the Equality Act - which would overturn most pro-life laws, including the Hyde Amendment. So quit whining https://t.co/abHXomzekn via @cnalive— Tom Mcclusky (@TMcClusky) January 10, 2020
“So quit whining,” McClusky said of Rep. Lipinski’s complaint that pro-lifers had not given him enough support. McClusky told CNA, when asked if March for Life Action would be supporting Rep. Lipinski, that the group “does not get involved in elections.”
March for Life Action generally focuses its efforts on policy advocacy related to abortion. In May 2019, the group opposed the Equality Act, which it said “could be used to force health care professionals and hospitals to perform abortions, regardless of if this would violate their conscience.”
The Equality Act, passed by the House last year, bars discrimination based on “sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity” in many public areas including housing, employment, education, and public accommodations while establishing definitions of “sex,” “sexual orientation,” and “gender identity.”
The bill, critics warned, not only lacked proper religious freedom safeguards, but would enshrine in law ideologies antithetical to Christian views on the human person, sexuality, and marriage. The U.S. Catholic bishops’ conference opposed the bill.
The bill has not been passed by the Senate.
Rep. Lipinski was the only House Democrat not to co-sponsor the legislation, a fact used by his primary opponent to attack him. The Congressman eventually voted for the legislation, saying he opposed discrimination, but he emphasized his committment to work for stronger safeguards for religious freedom.
On Jan. 9, Sean Nelson, legal counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom International, tweeted that Rep. Lipinski “has been a great supporter of #ReligiousFreedom while in the House, and co-chairs the International Religious Freedom Caucus.”