Ahead of the South Carolina primary, religious voters’ push for a “diversity of opinions” on abortion gets little reception from presidential hopefuls.
Though South Carolina’s Democrats are more religious and more pro-life than voters in other early primary states, presidential candidates are sticking to the increasingly strident pro-choice positions held by their party.
Democrats for Life of America used the campaign push in the South as a chance to call on candidates to consider the place of pro-life voters in their coalition.
The South Carolina Legislature has voted forward a “heartbeat bill,” one of the most restrictive anti-abortion laws in the country, and its Republican Senator Lindsey Graham sponsored the 20-week abortion ban voted on in the US Senate this week.
Evangelical Protestants and black Protestants make up half the population in South Carolina (compared to 30 percent of the overall US population). As Democrats engage in unprecedented levels of outreach to religious voters, many candidates make their way through black churches in the Southern state as they rally support. Kristen Day, executive director of the pro-life Democrats group, spoke at a press conference before Tuesday’s debate, reminding the presidential hopefuls from her party that many of the African American voters they are courting are less supportive of abortion than white Democrats or the party overall.
Exit polls from the 2016 primary show 61 percent of Democratic voters in South Carolina were African American, and Christian faith plays a key role among black voters, Day said.
Speaking in Charleston, South Carolina, Harriet Bradley, an African American minister and state chapter coordinator for Democrats for Life of America, quoted Proverbs 6:16–17, naming “hands that shed innocent blood” among the “things the Lord hates.”