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If Sen. Doug Jones wants to represent a majority of Alabamians, he should moderate his pro-choice position

Sen.-elect Doug Jones appears on CBS Sunday Morning, Dec. 17, 2017 (CBS News/Twitter)

 

(Opinion) In the wake of his stunning victory last month, Sen. Doug Jones signaled that he wanted to leave the contentious election behind by being an “independent voice” who would work with “both sides of the aisle” and not be tied to “just one particular group or philosophy.”

He’s already demonstrated a willingness to buck his own party by siding with the GOP in last week’s government shutdown. Some thought that was merely theater, however, because the Democrats couldn’t win even with his vote (so their leader allowed Jones a throwaway moment to impress voters back home).

Maybe.

But if Jones really wanted to prove his independence and truly represent how an overwhelming majority of Alabamians feel about a certain issue, he should moderate his rather extreme pro-choice position.

Nearly 60 percent of his constituents in Alabama believe abortion should be illegal in all or most cases, according to a survey by the Pew Research Center.

But during the campaign Jones expressed a pro-choice view that most Alabamians would view as extreme. In an appearance on MSNBC last fall Jones said he was “not in favor of anything that is going to infringe on a woman’s right and her freedom to choose.”

“That’s just the position that I’ve had for many years,” he added. “It’s the position I continue to have.”

But will Jones continue to have that “not in favor of anything” position now, having been elected to represent a state where 6-in-10 of its citizens are strongly pro-life?

The numbers don’t lie. Many pro-life Alabamians voted for Jones because they couldn’t stand Roy Moore. They believed Jones was, in his heart, a good man despite their many policy differences.

Out of respect for the millions of his constituents who have sincere and deeply held pro-life beliefs – beliefs that are largely based on science, not religion – Jones should listen, study, and think about the issue with a fresh perspective.

The senator may learn something new, and when that happens, he shouldn’t hesitate to change his mind. It’s not flip-flopping or waffling, or betraying any previously held pro-choice beliefs.

It’s merely reason.

Jones should remember that when a critic once charged John Maynard Keynes with being inconsistent, the famed economist was said to have responded, “When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?”

Let’s hope Jones sees the facts about abortion and then responds the way the vast majority of his constituents in Alabama already have.

(J. Pepper Bryars is the editor of Yellowhammer News and the author of “American Warfighter.”)