Rep. Dan Lipinski (Ill.), one of the few Democrats in Congress who opposes abortion, attended a fundraiser for a conservative anti-abortion organization on Monday, even as he takes heat from his own party for his position on reproductive rights.
Lipinski attended the annual Campaign for Life gala for the Susan B. Anthony List, a group that advocates for anti-abortion policies and devotes resources to electing like-minded politicians. It’s one of the main forces behind the raft of anti-abortion legislation nationwide.
Kathy Ireland, the former supermodel and businesswoman, served as the emcee at the event and mentioned Lipinski as one of the lawmakers in attendance Monday evening. Neither Lipinski nor the SBA List returned requests for comment.
Lipinski and his views on abortion have been roiling the party at a time when the issue has taken center stage around the country. Rep. Cheri Bustos (Ill.), who is in charge of defending the Democratic House majority in 2020, pulled out of a fundraiser for Lipinski recently after intense pressure from within her party. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is still backing him though.
Lipinski’s decision to attend the SBA List gala comes as the organization is having a wave of success in getting abortion bans passed in state legislatures across the country. Democrats have been warning about a GOP war on women and making abortion rights a central issue. Lipinski’s decision to attend a prominent fundraiser for this group sends a message that he intends to double down on his conservative position and stand with those his party is fighting.
The SBA List is a key national group providing firepower to conservative lawmakers pushing anti-abortion legislation. It offers model legislation and research to legislators, as well as national exposure, coordination and, through its political arm, donations for political campaigns.
Lipinski faces a challenge in 2020 from progressive Marie Newman, who unsuccessfully went up against the congressman last cycle. She’s already received the support of abortion rights groups like NARAL and Planned Parenthood and politicians including Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).
“With reproductive freedom under attack across the country, Dan Lipinski has decided to ally himself with the most extreme voices on the far right and in the anti-choice movement,” said Nicole Brener-Schmitz, political director of the abortion rights group NARAL. “Susan B. Anthony List has a long history of launching extreme and false attacks on the basic rights of women and families, and Lipinski’s support for this right-wing anti-choice organization speaks volumes about just how out of touch he is with today’s Democratic Party.”
The ties between the SBA List and Lipinski aren’t new. In 2018, President Donald Trump spoke at the organization’s gala and recognized and thanked Lipinski. The SBA List endorsed Lipinski in 2018 in his primary against Newman ― spending six figures in the race ― and then again in the general election.
This piece has been updated with comment from NARAL.