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After Controversial Sanders Endorsement, Minority Whip Says Dems Must Support Roe v. Wade

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Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Illinois) told CNN on Sunday that support for Roe v. Wade should remain a cornerstone of the party.

I am committed to women’s rights under the law, reproductive rights certainly, and our party is. We’ve made that part of our platform and position for a long, long time. I know within the ranks of the Democratic Party there are those who see that differently on a personal basis, but when it comes to the policy position, I think we need to be clear and unequivocal. We need to be understanding of those who take a different position because of personal conscience, but as long as they are prepared to back the law (Roe versus Wade), prepared to back women’s rights as we’ve defined them under the law, then I think they can be part of the party.

Roe is the Supreme Court case in which justices held that abortion is covered under the 14th Amendment’s due process clause.

The question came up because of a controversial endorsement. Vermont’s Sen. Bernie Sanders, an Independent who ran for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, is backing Heath Mello for Omaha, Nebraska’s mayoral race. Mello is running as a Dem, but built an anti-abortion record as a state senator.

“But I think you just can’t exclude people who disagree with us on one issue,” Sanders told NPR, though he reiterated his support for abortion rights.

NARAL Pro-Choice America’s President Ilyse Hogue criticize Sanders for supporting Mello. She also singled out Democratic National Committee Tom Perez because DNC resources were used alongside the mayoral candidate’s campaign.

“If Democrats think the path forward following the 2016 election is to support candidates who substitute their own judgement and ideology for that of their female constituents, they have learned all the wrong lessons and are bound to lose,” she said. “It’s not possible to have an authentic conversation about economic security for women that does not include our ability to decide when and how we have children.”

Perez, however, has gone on record saying Democratic candidates must support Roe.

“Every Democrat, like every American, should support a woman’s right to make her own choices about her body and her health,” he said in a statement obtained Friday by The Huffington Post. “That is not negotiable and should not change city by city or state by state.”

Mello has promised that despite his personal views, he wouldn’t restrict access to reproductive health care as mayor.

[Screengrab via CNN]

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