Debbie Wasserman Schultz Under Fire for Comments About Young Women

PHOTO: Rep. Debbie Wasserman Shultz, D-FL, and others listen at the David Posnack Jewish Community Center with Vice President Joe Biden to discuss the nuclear deal reached with Iran with Jewish community leaders, Sept. 3, 2015 in Davie, Fla. Johnny Louis//Getty Images
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Shultz, D-FL, and others listen at the David Posnack Jewish Community Center with Vice President Joe Biden to discuss the nuclear deal reached with Iran with Jewish community leaders, Sept. 3, 2015 in Davie, Fla.

Progressives and pro-choice activists are criticizing Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz for saying she's seen "complacency" among young women born after the Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court ruling, a landmark decision that established the right to an abortion.

"Here’s what I see: a complacency among the generation of young women whose entire lives have been lived after Roe v. Wade was decided," she told The New York Times in an interview.

The abortion rights group Reproaction encouraged supporters to use the hashtag "DearDebbie" to respond to Wasserman Schultz's comments.

Kierra Johnson, the executive director of Unite for Reproductive and Gender Equity, an abortion rights group, suggested young people view women's health issues from a different perspective.

"There is energy among young people around these issues -- it just may not be happening in the way that Rep. Wasserman Shultz is used to seeing," she said in a statement. "The young people that are drawn into this movement today don't see reproductive justice as wholly separate from LGBTQ equality or from racial justice or economic justice or a host of other issues."

Some progressives, unhappy with Wasserman Schultz's leadership of the DNC, used the controversy to call for her resignation.

Progressives have also accused her of favoring Hillary Clinton's run for the Democratic nomination by limiting the number of Democratic debates. The Florida Democrat has said the debate schedule was put together without any single candidate in mind.

Wasserman Schultz attempted to clarify her "complacency" comments in a statement released by the DNC.

"We need women of every generation – mine included – to stand up and speak out, and that is the main message I sought to convey in that interview," she wrote in the statement. "For many in my generation who lived the majority of our lives with the right to make our own health care choices, there wasn't a sense of urgency after Roe v. Wade settled our right to a safe and legal abortion."

"Since then, opponents worked aggressively to chip away at women’s reproductive freedom and they have awakened a sleeping giant in the millennials leading the fight in defense of the progress we’ve made," she continued. "My goal for the entire Democratic family for 2016 is to...ensure no one is complacent with so much at stake."

Asked about the calls for Wasserman Schultz's resignation, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said she still has confidence in the DNC chair.