Rep. Jim Langevin (D-RI) was one of the rare Democrats who ran for office for years as a pro-life candidate. As the national debate over abortion heats up, even more, he wrote an op-ed published Thursday in the Providence Journal in which he now pledges to support and promote a bill in Congress to enshrine legal abortion in federal law.
After campaigning as a Christian committed to pro-life values, Langevin says he decided to change his position after the Supreme Court decided against granting an injunction to stop enforcing a new pro-life law in Texas.
Texas enacted its Heartbeat Act which became effective on September 1, prohibiting most abortions after a fetal heartbeat is medically detected, usually occurring at about the sixth week of pregnancy. Several abortion advocacy groups filed lawsuits to challenge the law. When the appeal eventually reached the Supreme Court just before the law became effective, the court allowed the law to remain in place.
Langevin wrote that he had reconsidered his “position on reproductive rights” because the court did not block the new Texas law and because he believes the court is likely to overturn Roe v. Wade. This 1973 decision guaranteed access to abortions in the first trimester of pregnancy nationwide.
In a separate lawsuit in Mississippi, the Supreme Court has agreed to hear a final appeal in its upcoming term that places Roe directly in issue. In that case, the State of Mississippi and numerous interested parties have filed briefs with the court explicitly requesting that Roe be overturned. A final decision is expected next year.
Langevin’s op-ed has been sharply criticized by many of his previous supporters. Kristen Day is the executive director of Democrats for Life of America and told the Washington Free Beacon that she believes Langevin has shifted his position because of the influence of radical leftist leadership in the Democratic Party. Day said that the “political pressure is brutal.”
Day added that it is unfortunate that her party promotes inclusion and diversity as concepts but takes extreme positions against pro-life Democrats.
Langevin’s op-ed said that he planned to support Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s efforts to have the House pass the Women’s Health Protection Act. That bill would make abortion procedures legal under federal statutory law.
Langevin was initially elected to Congress in 2000, with pro-life advocacy groups giving him high marks. He has shifted to more pro-abortion positions through the last decade.