A Democratic senator said Sunday that Democrats must back abortion rights to be part of the party even if their personal stance on abortion is different.
"I am committed to women's rights under the law, reproductive rights certainly, and our party is," Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., told CNN. "We've made that part of our platform and position for a long, long time. I know within the ranks of the Democratic Party there are those who see that differently on a personal basis, but when it comes to the policy position, I think we need to be clear and unequivocal.
"We need to be understanding of those who take a different position, because of personal conscience, but as long as they are prepared to back the law, Roe versus Wade, prepared to back women's rights as we've defined them under the law, then I think they can be part of the party," he added.
Durbin was responding to a question about Sen. Bernie Sanders campaigning for Omaha, Neb., mayoral candidate Heath Mello, who doesn't support abortion.
Sanders and the National Democratic Committee are facing backlash from liberals for backing Mello, who co-sponsored a bill in 2009 that would require doctors to notify women of the option to receive an ultrasound before having an abortion.
Durbin's point of view isn't shared by all Democrats.
In a separate interview Sunday, Democratic House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said "of course" it's possible for someone to be against abortion and also a member of the Democratic Party.
"I have served many years in Congress with members who have not shared my very positive — my family would say aggressive — position on promoting a woman's right to choose," Pelosi told NBC.