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Democratic candidate urges party to drop support of centrist over abortion views

Lindsey Graham, Henry Cuellar
Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, with Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., speaks about the US-Mexico border during a news conference at the Capitol in Washington, Friday, July 30, 2021. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta) Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP

Democratic candidate urges party to drop support of centrist over abortion views

May 04, 03:54 PM May 04, 04:03 PM

A left-wing Democratic candidate seeking to unseat Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX) is urging party leaders to drop their support of the incumbent over his views on abortion.

Jessica Cisneros blasted Cuellar after he released a statement responding to the leaked report that indicated the Supreme Court would overturn Roe v. Wade and told supporters that as a “lifelong Catholic,” he has “always been pro-life.” Cisneros quickly responded, pointing to Cuellar’s voting record against codifying abortion rights and calling him the “last anti-choice Democrat” in the House.

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“Henry Cuellar was the only Democrat to vote with Republicans against codifying #Roe,” Cisneros tweeted on Tuesday. “I’ll always stand for our health care and the right to choose. In 21 days, Cuellar & I will face off in the Democratic runoff.”

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While he considers himself to be anti-abortion, Cuellar does not believe the procedure should be outright banned nationwide, he said in his statement, noting he supports abortions in the case of rape or incest. But his faith prohibits him from supporting late-term or partial-birth abortions, the Texas Democrat said.

“Let me be clear about the leaked opinion of the potential SCOTUS ruling, it is not based on precedent and is not incremental in nature. It will further divide the country during these already divisive times but let us wait until the final ruling,” he wrote. “My faith will not allow me to support a ruling that would criminalize teenage victims of rape and incest. That same faith will not allow me to support a ruling that would make a mother choose between her life and her child’s. … My faith is clear: abortion must be rare and safe.”

A draft Supreme Court decision leaked by Politico on Monday suggesting the overturning of the 1973 decision that legalized abortions nationwide prompted an immediate response, with people gathering both in protest and in support of the decision at state government buildings across the country. The report also elicited the response of several lawmakers, as abortion access is set to become a focal point in the months leading up to the midterm elections.

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The Democratic incumbent has already been endorsed by several high-profile members of his party, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD), and Democratic Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY). House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-SC) is also set to campaign with Cuellar at a rally on Wednesday night.

Cuellar and Cisneros, the latter of whom could benefit from outrage from the Democratic base in reaction to the Monday night leak, are set to face off in a runoff election on May 24 after neither won a majority of the state’s vote during the Democratic primary on March 2.

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