A Nebraska state legislator is transitioning from blue to red after his own party censured him for having a pro-life stance. Nebraska state Sen. Mike McDonnell officially left the Democratic Party last week after 40 years and became a Republican.

In a written statement explaining his decision, McDonnell wrote: “I have asked the Democratic Party to respect my religious based pro-life position. Instead over the last year they have decided to punish me for being pro-life.”

Last month, the Nebraska Democratic Party voted to censure McDonnell, a Catholic, over his pro-life record, contending that his stance “adversely affected the reproductive rights of Nebraskans and the rights of transgender individuals in the state.”

Douglas County Democrats also voted in January to deny party funding to McDonnell due to his votes against abortion measures and against gender-transition procedures for minors.

“The state Democratic Party voted to censure me because I am pro-life,” McDonnell wrote. “Being a Christian, a member of the Roman Catholic Church and pro-life is more important to me than being a registered Democrat. Today I am changing my party affiliation to Republican.”

In a speech addressing his decision, McDonnell explained that he registered as a Democrat in 1984 and ran for the state Legislature in 2016.

“I wanted to see how we could grow our state and reduce property taxes at the same time,” he said. “I asked the Democratic Party of Douglas County to respect that I’m pro-life, that I’m a member of the Roman Catholic Church, and my beliefs are based on that. But Douglas County Democrats, instead of respecting that, they decided to punish it. … I continued to vote pro-life.”

“This is not an easy decision,” the state senator added. “After 40 years of being a registered Democrat, having your grandfather tell you when you’re 10 years old, ‘What are we? We’re Irish, we’re Catholic, and we’re Democrats.’ That kind of stuck with me.”

Pointing to his new Republican Party colleagues, McDonnell said: “Over the last year, regardless of my decision [on] switching parties, they have been so supportive. … We had great discussions about what the Republican Party is doing, where they’re trying to go, how I potentially could fit in there. But the greatest thing about [it] is now I can participate again.”

U.S. Sen. Pete Ricketts, R-Neb., a former governor of the state, responded to McDonnell’s decision by writing on X: “I am pleased to welcome Sen. Mike McDowell to the Republican team.” He added: “The extreme new Democrats are pushing commonsense officials and voters to our party.”

McDonnell is far from the only Catholic abandoning the Democratic Party due to what many consider mandatory abortion extremism.

Recent studies show that white American Catholics have been drifting away from the party for decades, but in increasing numbers over the past two decades, coalescing instead around the GOP.

A survey of Michigan voters found last month that former President Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee credited with appointing three justices to the U.S. Supreme Court who enabled the dismantling of Roe v. Wade, holds a significant lead among Catholic voters over President Joe Biden, a Democrat and self-described Catholic.

A week ago, the Catholic archbishop of Washington, D.C., Cardinal Wilton Gregory, called Biden a “cafeteria Catholic” due to his rejection of the Catholic Church’s teaching on abortion.

In response to McDonnell’s new party affiliation, Nebraska Democratic Party Chairwoman Jane Kleeb issued a written statement saying: “The Nebraska Democratic Party will continue to stand up for reproductive freedom and the human rights of the LGBTQ community.”

Kleeb added: “Our decision to censure Sen. McDonnell was never about him being a pro-life Catholic. Our decision was based on our party reaffirming our core values to protect women’s ability to make health decisions and to keep politicians out of our personal health decisions.”

Originally published by The Washington Stand