A seemingly commonplace occurrence, several Republican gubernatorial hopefuls in Louisiana have attacked Governor John Bel Edwards, a Democrat. U.S. Rep. Ralph Abraham and Baton Rouge businessman Eddie Rispone are trying to make the claim that they are the truly pro-life candidates in the race — and have criticized Edwards for his Democratic party’s pro-abortion stance. There’s just one problem, though: Edwards himself is one of the very few pro-life Democrats left in the country, and attacking his pro-life principles does massive harm to the movement, which should be above political party affiliation.
Last month, Abraham criticized Edwards on Facebook for taking donations from the Democratic National Committee. He attempted to link Edwards to Ralph Northam, and to Virginia’s extreme pro-abortion bill. Oddly, while criticizing Edwards for not being pro-life enough, Abraham also took to Twitter to boast that he supports the death penalty, criticizing Edwards for not taking a stance for or against it.
Rispone likewise tried to link Edwards to the Democratic Party’s pro-abortion stance, writing on Twitter that “[f]rom late term abortions to infanticide, John Bel Edwards’ Democratic Party will stop at nothing to inject their pro-abortion agenda into Louisiana.” While this may be accurate when referring to Edwards’ party, Edwards has taken an opposing stance to his party on abortion.
The Texarkana Gazette notes that there have been other attacks from both Republican candidates, while the Shreveport Times pointed out Edwards’ ardent pro-life legacy in Louisiana, including a decline in the number of abortions committed in the state. Edwards backs up his values with his voting, and has a 100% rating from Louisiana Right to Life.
— LA Right to Life (@LARighttoLife) March 14, 2019
— LA Right to Life (@LARighttoLife) September 20, 2017
But the real problem here is that members of one political party have chosen to use the pro-life movement as a cudgel with which to beat members of another political party.
John Bel Edwards is part of a dying breed; there are fewer and fewer pro-life Democrats, thanks to a party that is hostile toward them. Every Democrat running for president thus far holds extremist pro-abortion views. While polling has found sizable numbers of Democrat voters identify as pro-life, the party increasingly ignores them. And it’s for precisely that reason that these attacks on Edwards are so damaging to the cause.
It’s all well and good for opposing political candidates to criticize each other on issues where they disagree. There are numerous political positions in which the two parties are in extreme opposition. But we should be above that; if the goal is to save human lives, including those of the preborn, attacking a genuinely pro-life politician isn’t the way to do it.
This should not be about winning votes. The priority should be saving lives — and pro-life Democrats like Edwards are sorely needed. We should be encouraging pro-lifers to rise up in all political parties, and realize that the movement should really transcend politics. Pro-life principles don’t exist merely to win elections.
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