U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who\u0026#039;s now on a multi-state tour to galvanize grassroots resistance to the Trump agenda, can boast of high popularity, but he\u0026#039;s taking flak for backing an anti-choice mayoral candidate.Speaking Thursday at a sold-out event at the University of Nebraska Omaha\u0026#039;s Baxter Arena, Sanders rallied support for Heath Mello, the Democrat who\u0026#039;s hoping to unseat Omaha\u0026#039;s Republican Mayor Jean Stothert next month.\u0022Maybe, just maybe it\u0026#039;s time to change one-party rule in Nebraska,\u0022 Sanders said during the Democratic National Committee\u0026#039;s (DNC) \u0022Come Together and Fight Back\u0022 tour stop, the Associated Press reports. \u0022And we can start right here by electing Heath Mello as the next mayor,\u0022 Sanders said.As reproductive news website Rewire notes:Mello represented Nebraska\u0026#039;s District 5 in the state legislature from 2009 to 2016, when he reached his term limit. He co-sponsored an anti-choice measure later signed into law forcing doctors to offer patients seeking an abortion an ultrasound prior to the procedure. [...]Mello said in an\u0026nbsp;Associated Press\u0026nbsp;interview that the legislation was a \u0022positive first step to reducing the number of abortions in Nebraska.\u0022 [...]Mello is a sponsor of the final version of\u0026nbsp;a 20-week abortion ban approved by the governor\u0026nbsp;in 2010, and cast anti-choice votes in favor of\u0026nbsp;requiring physicians to be physically present for an abortion in order to impede access to telemedicine abortion care, and a law banning insurance plans\u0026nbsp;in the state from covering abortions. He\u0026nbsp;was endorsed in 2010 by anti-choice group Nebraska Right to Life.Sanders defended his support for Mello, telling NPR Thursday after a rally in Grand Prairie, Texas: \u0022Absolutely, and I want him to win.\u0022 He added: \u0022If we are going to protect a woman\u0026#039;s right to choose, at the end of the day we\u0026#039;re going to need Democratic control over the House and the Senate, and state governments all over this nation,\u0022 he said. \u0022And we have got to appreciate where people come from, and do our best to fight for the pro-choice agenda. But I think you just can\u0026#039;t exclude people who disagree with us on one issue.\u0022Mello\u0026#039;s legislative record curtailing reproductive rights and Sanders\u0026#039; support for him drew the ire of Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, who outlined her condemnation in a series of tweets and a statement.\u0022The actions today by the DNC to embrace and support a candidate for office who will strip women—one of the most critical constituencies for the party—of our basic rights and freedom is not only disappointing, it is politically stupid,\u0022 Hogue, who was a delegate for Hillary Clinton during her presidential run, stated.\u0022The Democratic Party, and its leaders, would be ill-advised to ignore data that blocking access to legal abortion does not win you a single vote, and robs women of dignity and autonomy. Abortion access is not a \u0026#039;single issue\u0026#039; or a \u0026#039;social issue.\u0026#039; It is a proxy for women to have control over our lives, our families\u0026#039; lives, our economic well-being, our dignity, and human rights,\u0022 Hogue continued.She added on Twitter: \u0022It\u0026#039;s that there IS NO economic populism 4 women WITHOUT reproductive freedom and Justice. Is that so hard?\u0022\u0022Do better, Dems,\u0022 she added in a separate tweet. \u0022These are real women w/real families that u hurt when u see our very beings as negotiable properties to win elections.\u0022Mello, for his part, said to Huffington Post Thursday: \u0022While my faith guides my personal views, as Mayor I would never do anything to restrict access to reproductive healthcare.\u0022Apart from stumping for Mello, Aaron Blake, senior political reporter for Washington Post\u0026#039;s \u0022The Fix\u0022 blog, wrote that another sign of Sanders\u0026#039; \u0022strange behavior\u0022 is keeping \u0022at arms-length\u0022 Democrat Jon Ossoff, who\u0026#039;s running in the special election for the U.S. House seat vacated by newly-installed Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price. Ossoff has declared support for reproductive rights.\u0022He\u0026#039;s not a progressive,\u0022 Sanders said of Ossof to the Post. And in an interview with the Wall Street Journal Wednesday, Sanders said he didn\u0026#039;t know if Ossof is a progressive.\u0026nbsp; In a statement issued Friday, however, Sanders did back Ossoff.\u0026nbsp; \u0022It is imperative that Jon Ossoff be elected congressman from Georgia\u0026#039;s 6th District and that Democrats take back the U.S. House. I applaud the energy and grassroots activism in Jon\u0026#039;s campaign. His victory would be an important step forward in fighting back against [President Donald] Trump\u0026#039;s reactionary agenda,\u0022 Sanders stated, according to HuffPo.But according to at least one observer, those criticizing Sanders\u0026#039; backing of Mello would be wise to remember that the party has backed other anti-abortion Democrats.Politico noted: \u0022Mello joins Indiana Sen. Joe Donnelly and Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey as self-described anti-abortion Democrats who are getting support from the party this year.\u0022On previous healthcare legislation, many made clear they were willing to \u0022sell women down the river,\u0022 while Senate Minoroity Leader Harry Reid has said: \u0022I clearly oppose abortion.\u0022Clinton also chose as her running mate Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine, who declared his \u0022faith-based opposition\u0022 to abortion.