Democratic Presidential candidates had their first opportunity to stand out from their competitors during the first debate of the 2020 primary in Miami Wednesday night. While the crowded stage left little opportunity for in-depth policy discussions, the candidates who spoke about abortion all agreed on expanding access to abortion and funding for abortion.
Former Representative Beto O’Rourke brought the issue up during a discussion on health care. He said that “Health care also has to mean that every woman can make decisions about her own body and has access to the care that makes that possible.”
Washington Governor Jay Inslee made a statement that led to one of the more tense moments of the evening. In arguing for expanding federal funding for abortion, he referred to a bill he signed into law in 2018 requiring insurance companies to cover and wide range of abortion and contraceptive services and used it as an opportunity to draw a contrast between himself and the other nine hopefuls. He boasted, “I am the only candidate here who has passed a law protecting a woman’s right of reproductive rights in health insurance. I respect everyone’s goals and plans here, but we have one candidate who advanced the ball. We have to have access for everyone.”
Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota took exception to Inslee’s claim and interjected, “I want to say there are three women up here who fought pretty hard for a woman’s right to choose,” referring to herself, Representative Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii and Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. Klobuchar did not elaborate on how she would fight for abortion, but her comments drew applause from the audience and praise from users on social media.
Inslee: "I'm the only candidate here who has passed a law protecting a woman's right of reproductive health and health insurance."— NBC News (@NBCNews) June 27, 2019
Klobuchar: "I just want to say there's three women up here who have fought pretty hard for women's right to choose." #DemDebate pic.twitter.com/7bNJGAn5N3
Some of the strongest words on abortion came from Julian Castro, who formerly served as Mayor of San Antonio until he became Secretary of Housing and Urban Development under President Obama. Castro said he does not only believe in “reproductive freedom,” but also “reproductive justice.” He further explained, “What that means, is not just a woman, but let’s not forget someone in the trans community, a trans female, is poor doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have the right to choose. So I would absolutely cover the right to have an abortion.”
Lester Holt asked Senator Elizabeth Warren if she would put any “limits on abortion.” She avoided answering the question directly, choosing instead to speak broadly about abortion access, saying, “I would make certain that every woman has access to the full range of reproductive health care services – and that includes birth control. It includes abortion. It includes everything for a woman.” Then, Warren suggested that legislative and executive action should be taken to protect abortion rights. She said, “And I want to add on that, it’s not enough for us to expect the courts to protect us. Forty-seven years ago, Roe v. Wade was decided and we’ve all looked to the courts all that time, as state after state has undermined Roe, has put in exceptions – has come right up to the edge of taking away protections.”
Wednesday night’s debate featured ten Presidential hopefuls, though only Senator Warren and Senator Cory Booker have consistently ranked among the top candidates in the polls. Ten more candidates will share the stage Thursday night, including former Vice President Joe Biden, Senator Bernie Sanders, Senator Kamala Harris, and Mayor Pete Buttigieg, who as Christian Headlines recently reported, said that late-term abortions were “hypothetical.”
Scott Slayton writes at “One Degree to Another.”
Photo Courtesy: Getty Images/Stevan Ovicigor