Featured Image

March 18, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – Left-wing challenger Marie Newman defeated eight-term incumbent Rep. Dan Lipinski Tuesday in Illinois’ Democrat primary for the U.S. House of Representatives, marking a blow to the last vestiges of so-called “pro-life Democrats” on the national level.

Lipinski had the enthusiastic support of some national pro-life groups. Hailing him as a “pro-life champion,” the Susan B. Anthony List spent heavily on a campaign to reach more than 17,000 “pro-life Democratic” households via digital advertising, phone calls, and direct mail. Students for Life of America, meanwhile, worked on contacting more than 10,000 voters “in defense of an endangered species – the pro-life Democrat.”

Newman, a La Grange businesswoman who had the support of the party’s most progressive elements, won the race 48.2% to 45.8%, the Chicago Tribune reports

“I am bursting with pride and gratitude for the amazing coalition who helped bring about much needed change in our district,” she said. “We are going to work together to lower healthcare costs, to fight climate change, and to continue building a hospitable community for everyone, no matter where you come from.”

It seems that fears over the coronavirus played a role in Lipinski’s defeat, particularly the cancellation of events on the South Side, Irish Catholic areas that carried Lipinski in 2018.

“Irish Catholics? The 19th Ward? That’s our base,” said campaign spokesman Phil Davidson. “The opportunity just vaporized.”

Various pro-life activists and media figures lamented Lipinski’s defeat, some out of affection for Lipinski himself and others as a sign of the Democrat Party’s hardline stance on abortion:

However, it is disputed just how pro-life Lipinski truly was, or whether his membership in Congress was a net positive for the pro-life cause.

Lipinski’s voting record has mixed scores on abortion but generally averages above 50% from pro-life groups and below 50% from pro-abortion ones. He supports requiring doctors to provide live-saving treatment to newborns who survive abortion, but also voted for the so-called Equality Act, a broad pro-LGBT bill whose provisions would have also imperiled the rights of health workers who object to participating in abortion. On February 13, 2020, he voted in favor of the Equal Rights Amendment, which if enacted would essentially enshrine abortion into the U.S. Constitution.

Furthermore, while individual lawmakers can technically vote against their party’s official position on any given issue, their party affiliation decides which party’s leaders have majority control over the House or Senate. This influences legislation’s fortunes in various ways, including scheduling votes, setting procedural rules, controlling committees, and more.

“Remember, the Speaker of the House ultimately determines the legislative agenda and if the party committed to elective abortion controls the chamber, its candidate for speaker will inevitably be pro-abortion,” Life Training Institute president Scott Klusendorf has argued. “Nevertheless, these pro-life members vote for their party’s candidate for speaker, which all but guarantees that pro-life bills never see the light of day. In most cases, then, they aren’t reforming their party’s pro-abortion stance; they’re enabling it.”

It is on these grounds that Democrat Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi justified her own endorsement of Lipinski in 2018, arguing at the time that his victory would contribute to securing “a pro-choice gavel when we win the Congress.”