The contest for mayor of Omaha seems an unlikely place for a fight to break out among Democrats over the issue of abortion rights. For one thing, mayors have very little influence on abortion policies. Such matters are most commonly debated in state legislatures and the U.S. Congress or mulled over by the U.S. Supreme Court. Nonetheless, the Democrats, with their penchant for finding issues to battle over, have been feuding over whether to support the Democratic candidate for mayor of Omaha, Heath Mello, who, as a practicing Catholic, opposes abortion. He has also pledged not to use his office to obstruct the access of women to reproductive health care. Nonetheless, pro-choice group NARAL Pro-Choice America and the news website Daily Kos have called upon Senator Bernie Sanders and Democratic National Committee chair Tom Perez to withdraw their support of Mello. This is left-wing sectarianism at its most suicidal and an inauspicious sign for the hope of the party to regain the many offices it has lost.

What NARAL and Daily Kos have done is, quite plainly, set a religious test for who is or is not worthy of support from the Democratic Party. They seem to have accepted in 2016 the explanation provided by the Democratic vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine that he would not let his Catholic faith guide his conduct in office. Kaine had pointed to his 100% rating from Planned Parenthood. Congress, moreover, has many pro-choice Catholics who support the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade among them Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi who, over the weekend, chided Democratic National Chairman Perez for apparently backing off from his softer line on anti-abortion Democrats. For those Democrats critical of the supporters of Heath Mello, there seems to be an assumption that if you are Catholic and, as a matter of faith, you oppose abortion, you are unworthy of support even if you pledge not to let your faith color your official actions.

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