Democrat House candidate in Illinois says Democratic Party must 'make room at the table' for pro-life Dems

Butler says he believes the Supreme Court made a 'step in the right direction' by overturning Roe v. Wade

A pro-life Democrat seeking to represent Illinois' First Congressional District in the House is speaking out against backlash pro-life Democrats have received in the wake of the Supreme Court's ruling on abortion, saying he believes pro-choice members of the party need to "make room at the table" for those who share his view and that the high court made a "step in the right direction."

Chris Butler, a pastor of a local church and graduate from Northeastern Illinois University, offered the remarks in an interview with Fox News Digital on Tuesday ahead of his primary election in the state.

Implementing certain ideas around his pro-life leanings, Butler said he believes in a "life-affirming value."

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In a Democratic primary race to represent Illinois' First Congressional District, Chris Butler faced off Tuesday against 15 other candidates. 

In a Democratic primary race to represent Illinois' First Congressional District, Chris Butler faced off Tuesday against 15 other candidates.  (Chris Butler campaign)

"When I looked at the over representation of poor people and people of color in abortion rates, it more closely mirrored the things we were working against than the things we were working for," Butler said, reflecting on time he spent working on justice issues throughout his community. "You see the same old representation that you see in incarceration rates, that you see in poverty rates, that you see in, you know, lack of educational attainment. That was a real red flag for me. It made me begin to think this might be something that is more a tool of injustice than a tool of justice."

"I just think it's very, very important that we do not offer abortion as a solution to things like poverty, housing, and equity," he added. "These are issues I have learned over years as a community leader, over years as a pastor, these are things that force women into situations of even desiring an abortion. We have to protect the sacred life in the womb that I think most Americans know is a life, a human life, and is a valuable human life."

Butler, whose pro-life values stem from within his church and his mother and grandmother, said he believes the Supreme Court made the right decision in overturning federal protections for abortion granted in the 1973 landmark case Roe v. Wade.

"I think that the Supreme Court ruling is a step in the right direction," he said. "It does not take us the whole mile … but we have an obligation, those of us who will be in the legislature, and really every citizen, to make sure we continue to push forward … to protect and honor the value of life at every stage of life."

Butler, who is endorsed by the Susan B. Anthony List and the Illinois Fraternal Order of Police, said the issue surrounding abortion is "going to show up" in primary elections. "Democrats like me, who are running in primary races and being open about the idea of protecting pre-born life are going to find that people in our communities really do understand this fact."

A native of Chicago, Butler also provided his thoughts on recent comments made from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., where the "Squad" congresswoman insisted it is time to "reassess" whether pro-life Democrats should have the ability to "continue to serve in 2022" following the Supreme Court's ruling on abortion.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., speaks during a rally outside the U.S. Capitol, Dec. 7, 2021 in Washington.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., speaks during a rally outside the U.S. Capitol, Dec. 7, 2021 in Washington. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

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"The Democratic Party makes a mistake to immediately push away folks who espouse a pro-life view," Butler said. "I would agree that we need to reassess, because I think that if you look over the last 30 years, it's been pretty decided that the party has not accepted pro-life Democrats. I think we need to make a reassessment and make room at the table for pro-life Democrats because that is really how we grow our party."

"When you're talking about a pro-life Democrat can't be a part of the party, when you say no pro-life Democrats, you push away… the Church of God and Christ, the single-largest black denomination in the United States. And so, we cannot say we're gonna push away pro-life Democrats."

Discussing how he began his career and the interworking of his faith that led him to run for Congress, Butler explained that he grew up in the church he now pastors and has a history of working on several issues within the community.

"Most of my work, before now, starting when I was 12-years-old, I got started in community work trying to fix things and do things in education and different justice issues around the community," Butler said. "That got into my church life and helped lead ministries in the church around issues of justice."

Butler and members of his family.

Butler and members of his family. (Chris Butler campaign)

Butler said he did not initially intend to become a pastor in 2016 and instead wanted to only be a "good Sunday school teacher."

According to Butler, his campaign is focused on "putting families back into the middle of politics" with a focus on economical hardships, public safety, and education.

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"These issues are the issues that help us build this economy back, nationally, and to help build our communities in a fresh way," he said. "We're facing terrible inflation, a lot of people think we're going into a recession and the question that I think is the most important question in this election is how do we begin to restore our communities, how do we restore our families, and how do we restore our nation."

Butler joins a crowded field of more than 16 primary candidates, including Jonathan Jackson, the son of Rev. Jesse Jackson, who are all vying to represent the state's First District in Congress.