DES MOINES, Iowa – Former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg was questioned by Kristen Day, the executive director of Democrats for Life of America, about his view on abortion and the Democratic Party’s exclusion of pro-life Democrats from the party.
Day, 50, had the opportunity to ask Buttigieg, 38, about his view on abortion during his Fox News town hall held in Des Moines on Sunday just eight days before the first-in-the-nation Iowa Caucus on February 3, 2020.
Her question is the first time this cycle any Democratic presidential candidate has been questioned about the exclusion of the millions of pro-life Democrats in the United States.
“I am a proud, pro-life Democrat, so do you want the support of pro-life Democratic voters? There are about 21 million of us. And if so, would you support more moderate platform language in the Democratic Party to ensure that the party of diversity and inclusion really does include everybody?” she asked.
Buttigieg only partially answered her question at first.
“I respect where you are coming from and I hope to earn your vote, but I’m not going to try to earn your vote by tricking you. I am pro-choice and I believe that a woman ought to be able to make that decision,” he answered to applause.
“I know that the difference of opinion that you and I have is one that we have come by honestly, and the best that I can offer and it may win your vote and if not I understand. The best I can offer is that if we can’t agree on where to draw the line, the next best thing we can do is agree on who should draw the line. And, in my view, it is the woman who is faced with that decision in her own life,” Buttigieg added.
Chris Wallace, the moderator of the town hall, pointed out that this question was an interesting moment noting that President Donald Trump was the first president to appear at the March for Life last Friday. He then asked Day if she was satisfied with his answer.
“I was not because he did not answer the second part of my question and the second part was that the Democratic platform contains language that basically says that we don’t belong, we have no part in the party because it says abortion should be legal up to nine months, the government should pay for it, and there’s nothing that says that people have a diversity of views on this issue should be included in the party. In 1996, and several years after that, there was language in the Democratic platform that said we understand that people have very differing views on this issue, but we are a big tent party that includes everybody so therefore we welcome you, people like me into the party, so that we can work on issues that we agree on. So my question was, would you be open to letting language like that in the Democratic platform that really did say that our party is diverse and inclusive and we want everybody?” she responded.
Buttigieg then followed up, “I support the position of my party, that this kind of medical care needs to be available to everyone. And I support the Roe v. Wade framework that holds that early in pregnancy there are very few restrictions and late in pregnancy there are very few exceptions. And, again, the best I can offer is that we may disagree on that very important issue, and hopefully, we will be able to partner on other issues.”
Which, is to say, he can offer nothing of substance to pro-life Democrats on the issue of abortion.
Wallace pressed Buttigieg further, “So what do you say to Democrats who are pro-life, and there are obviously millions of them as well, what do you say to them on an issue of such deep conscience: that they should overlook this particular issue and look at the whole sum of views or go find another party?”
“Look, I never encountered a politician or, frankly, another person that I agreed with 100 percent of the time, and even on very important things. We may sometimes disagree, but, at the end of the day, this is what I believe and people I care about and respect view it differently. But this is something I believe is so important especially because I’m never going to have to make that decision. And, so, I may have my views, but I can not imagine that a decision that a woman confronts is going to ever be better, medically or morally, because it is being dictated by any government official and that is just where I am on the issue,” Buttigieg replied still avoiding the substance of Day’s question about the Democratic platform.
Of the remaining Democratic presidential candidates, U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii is the only one who supports any kind of restriction on abortion. During a debate in October she said she supports bans on abortions during the third trimester unless the life of the mother is at risk or she faces “severe health consequences.”
According to a 2019 Gallup Poll, 29 percent of Democrats identify as pro-life. The Knights of Columbus/Marist College annual poll of Americans’ view on abortion was released this month notes only 17 percent of Democrats in their poll identified as pro-life, but, according to the 2020 poll, 44 percent of Democrats said they are likely to vote for a candidate who wants significant restrictions on abortion.