Reproductive rights have emerged as a flashpoint in the Democratic primary race for Rep. Dan Lipinski’s (Ill.) seat in Congress, as the anti-abortion group Susan B. Anthony List pours money into helping the right-leaning incumbent defeat his progressive challenger, Marie Newman.
SBA List, a political action committee that normally works to elect anti-abortion Republicans, made the unusual move of endorsing Lipinski this week and spending six figures on ads for his campaign ahead of Tuesday’s primary. SBA’s president, Marjorie Dannenfelser, called Lipinski “a hero to the pro-life movement” because he opposes a woman’s right to choose abortion and even some forms of birth control. She said the group is trying to save one of its last remaining allies in the Democratic Party.
“They are draining the party dry of any pro-life sentiment,” Dannenfelser told McClatchy. “There’s no tolerance for even pro-choice candidates who think late-term abortion is a bridge too far. No toleration for pro-choicers who think being pro-choice is consistent with being against late-term abortion.”
Lipinski is facing a fierce primary challenge from Newman, a progressive businesswoman who is backed by the powerful abortion rights groups EMILY’s List and NARAL as well as Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).
Newman challenged Lipinski on reproductive rights in a side-by-side interview set to air Friday evening on Fox 32 in Chicago. Lipinski defended his vote against the Affordable Care Act in 2010, explaining that he opposed the provision requiring religious groups to cover birth control in their health care plans.
“I don’t think the Little Sisters of the Poor should be forced to provide abortion-inducing drugs, things that go against their beliefs,” Lipinski said.
“It’s called birth control, Mr. Lipinski,” Newman responded.
Lipinski also opposes LGBTQ rights, the $15-per-hour minimum wage and the Dream Act, and he refused to endorse Obama for president in 2012. The Blue Dog Democrat considers himself a moderate and has characterized Newman as belonging to the “tea party of the left” ― too liberal for his southwest Chicago district.
Newman shot back in the Fox 32 interview. “No one knows about this, what is it, tea party of the left? No one’s ever heard of this thing, except for him,” she said. “So the party is actually getting back to its roots for working families and the expanding middle class and bringing health care for all.”