House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said on Sunday that "of course" a person could be a member of the Democratic party and be against abortion, responding to an issue that flared up last week over whether or not Democrats must adhere to party orthodoxy in order to be a member, The Hill reported.
"Of course, I have served many years in Congress with members who have not shared my very positive — my family would say aggressive — position on promoting a woman's right to choose," Pelosi told host Chuck Todd on NBC's "Meet The Press" on Sunday.
The debate came front and center when Democratic National Committee (DNC) Chairman Tom Perez and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., clashed last week over a campaign rally for Omaha, Neb., Democratic mayoral candidate Heath Mello, a practicing Catholic, who previously had supported abortion-related ultrasound legislation.
Sanders had suggested the DNC include the rally as part of a party-sanctioned "Unity Tour." When Perez received backlash for including a rally for a Democratic candidate who had views against abortion rights, his aides blamed Sanders for including the event on the tour and not vetting Mello's opinion on abortion beforehand, according to The New York Times.
Perez then made statements on Friday that appeared to indicate that being a member of the Democratic party required a stance in favor of abortion rights.
"It is a promising step that Mello now shares the Democratic Party's position on women's fundamental rights. Every candidate who runs as a Democrat should do the same because every woman should be able to make her own health choices. Period,” Perez said in a statement issued Friday.
Perez later toughened his language, stating he respected Democrats who "have personal beliefs” against abortion rights, yet warned them not to pursue such policies in office.
"If they try to legislate or govern that way, we will take them on," Perez said in an interview Friday.
Sanders criticized the Democratic party on Sunday, telling CBS's "Face the Nation," "The model of the Democratic party is failing." He stressed Democrats had to become "a grassroots party" that could "take the lead” on issues that matter to the working class to increase voter turnout and "regain control of the United States Congress."
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