Pelosi: Don't kick out anti-abortion Dems from party

WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 27:  House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) talks to reporters during her weekly news conference at the U.S. Capitol Visitors Center April 27, 2017 in Washington, DC. Pelosi gave President Donald Trump a letter grade for his performance as he approaches his 100th day in office.  (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Story highlights

  • Pelosi's comments are at odds with recent remarks by Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez
  • "This is the Democratic Party. This is not a rubber-stamp party," Pelosi said

Washington (CNN)House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said she believes the Democratic Party should not use abortion as a deciding factor on whether to endorse candidates for office.

"This is the Democratic Party. This is not a rubber-stamp party," Pelosi said in an interview with The Washington Post published Tuesday.
Pelosi is the highest-ranking Democrat in the House, and her comments are at odds with recent remarks by Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez, who recently called Democratic support for abortion "not negotiable."
    Speaking to the Post, Pelosi referred to her background growing up in a "devout Catholic family" that was also "staunchly Democratic."
    "Most of those people -- my family, extended family -- are not pro-choice. You think I'm kicking them out of the Democratic Party?" Pelosi told The Washington Post.
    And although the political debate over support for abortion has been traditionally settled down party lines, the Democratic Party's divide was revealed by a somewhat unsuspecting source -- the Omaha, Nebraska, mayoral race.
    Democratic candidate Heath Mello initially received support from Perez and Sen. Bernie Sanders.
    However, the endorsement brought intense criticism from fellow Democrats and women's groups, including pro-abortion rights organization NARAL Pro-Choice, which criticized Mello's record on the subject during his time in the state legislature.
    Mello has since clarified his stance on abortion as something he thinks should be a decision made between a woman and her partner, according to The Nation.
    Sanders stood by his endorsement of Mello in an interview on CBS's "Face the Nation" on April 23, calling the support necessary "if we're going to become a 50-state party."
    Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Illinois, echoed Pelosi's comments while speaking to reporters Wednesday evening at an event for Emily's List -- a group that works to elect Democratic, pro-abortion women in various levels of government.
    When asked if there is room for anti-abortion candidates in the Democratic Party, Duckworth replied: "I think there is, but I think they would have to be very nuanced in how they talk about these issues."
    "We have a full range of folks, but at the end of the day, it's about respecting each individual's rights, and that means you have to respect women's rights," Duckworth said.
    Perez also issued a statement advising Democratic support for abortion.
    "I fundamentally disagree with Heath Mello's personal beliefs about women's reproductive health. 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 the statement.
    President Donald Trump's administration has been stacked with abortion critics, including Vice President Mike Pence, and he nominated Justice Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, a win for anti-abortion conservatives.
    Trump has also been hailed by anti-abortion advocates for his actions as president, including the reversal of the so-called Mexico City Policy, which removed funding to non-governmental organizations that perform or promote abortions, and cuts to funding for the United Nations Population Fund, a program for women and girls, over abortion.
    "You know what? That's why Donald Trump is president of the United States -- the evangelicals and the Catholics, anti-marriage equality, anti-choice. That's how he got to be president," Pelosi said to The Washington Post.