Although Lipinski’s race with Newman focused on the abortion issue, Newman also attacked him for not supporting policies championed by progressive activists, such as Medicare for All and the Green New Deal. Lipinski had previously opposed the Equality Act, a pro-LGBT bill opposed by the U.S. bishops’ conference, before he voted for a version of it in 2019. Newman, who has a child identifying as transgender, had attacked Lipinski for his previous opposition to the legislation.
In an April 2021 interview with EWTN Pro-Life Weekly, Lipinski called on Catholic public officials – including President Joe Biden – to “be different. We shouldn’t just be Democrats, Republicans, and follow the party line.”
This applies to Catholic and pro-life voters, too, he told CNA. He warned of the trap of “sectarian partisanship,” where voters choose a political party and take all the policy positions supported by that party – whether or not they have fully considered them.
“And this is really dangerous for Catholics, because Catholics don't fit neatly into either [political] side,” he said.
"It's a problem for the Catholic Church right now, this divide," he said, noting that political divisions among Catholics intensified after the passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010.
“We can't demonize others, we cannot view others as evil. That goes against everything that Jesus taught us,” he said.
Many pro-life groups support Republicans, arguing that they are “the pro-life party,” he noted.
“I understand that, that general feeling, but I think it's important to be able to look out for the pro-life Democratic candidates and support them, and understand the importance of having pro-life voices in the Democratic Party.”
A current priority of pro-abortion groups is the repeal of the Hyde amendment and similar policies, which prohibit federal funding of abortion in a number of programs including Medicaid. Appropriations bills that passed the House this summer excluded the Hyde amendment, and a bill introduced Monday in a Senate committee also excluded the policy.
“The Hyde amendment is an acknowledgement that even people who consider themselves to be pro-choice, many of them have a problem with abortion,” Lipinski said of bans on taxpayer-funded abortion.
Pro-abortion groups “just want to get rid of that idea," he said, pointing to the development of the Democratic Party platforms as an example. While the 1996, 2000, and 2004 platforms called for abortion to be “rare” or “more rare,” the platforms subsequently dropped that language. The 2016 and 2020 platforms called for taxpayer-funded abortion.
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The Supreme Court this fall will hear arguments in a major abortion case that legal experts say could result in the repeal of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling that legalized abortion nationwide.
Pro-life advocates must prepare for a society where Roe is overturned, Lipinski emphasized, as “there's going to be a lot more work for people who are pro-life for them to do, and we need to be preparing for that right now.”
Matt Hadro was the political editor at Catholic News Agency through October 2021. He previously worked as CNA senior D.C. correspondent and as a press secretary for U.S. Congressman Chris Smith.