Welcome to Hindsight 2020, Refinery29’s weekly column reflecting on the women running for president and the lessons learned (or not!) from 2016.
As many watched in horror as lawmakers in Georgia, Alabama, and Missouri launched an unprecedented attack on access to abortion care over the past week, the Democratic women running for president made something clear: In the words of Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, "It’s time to fight like hell."
The topic of abortion rights has long been treated as a niche issue within the Democratic party, to the dismay of advocates who have long sounded the alarm about unrelenting conservative attacks against reproductive healthcare. But in a crowded field of presidential hopefuls, the women stood out by how quickly and sharply they rebutted these bans. Like Gillibrand, her colleagues Sens. Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, and Amy Klobuchar, alongside author Marianne Williamson, spoke forcefully against the rise of anti-abortion legislation.
Ahead, we break down where these women and other presidential candidates currently stand when it comes to women’s healthcare and reproductive justice.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand
Last week, when Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed into law a ban on abortions once a "fetal heartbeat " is detected, Gillibrand promised she would only nominate judges willing to uphold Roe v. Wade, the 1973 landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision that President Donald Trump vowed to help overturn.
She subsequently traveled to Georgia to meet with patients, health providers, and advocates. There, she announced a plan to codify Roe into law and repeal the Hyde Amendment, which prevents the use of federal funds to pay for abortion care.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren
On Friday, Sen. Elizabeth Warren unveiled her own reproductive rights platform, calling for Congress to pass a group of federal laws protecting access to reproductive care even in the event Roe falls. These include codifying access to abortion in the federal statute, repealing the Hyde Amendment, reversing the Trump administration’s gag rule, and passing a bill blocking states from enacting onerous anti-abortion restrictions such as the targeted regulations on abortion providers (TRAP) laws.
Sen. Kamala Harris
While Harris has yet to launch her reproductive rights platform, she promises on her campaign website to ensure that "reproductive rights are not just protected by the Constitution of the United States but guaranteed in every state." She also spoke up against Alabama’s HB 314, which bans abortion at any stage of gestation, except in cases in which the woman’s life is in danger. The legislation, which makes no exceptions for cases of rape or incest, makes performing an abortion a felony offense.
"We must say loud and clear that women’s health care is under attack," Harris tweeted. "We will not stand for it and we won’t go down without a fight. Too much is at stake."
Sen. Amy Klobuchar
Klobuchar does not have a dedicated section to her reproductive rights platform on her campaign website, but said the Alabama ban as "unconstitutional." She also tweeted of the Missouri 8-week abortion ban: "This is a coordinated attack on women’s health and an attempt to turn back the clock to a time before Roe v. Wade. We have to stop this."
Thought she has not unveiled her reproductive rights platform yet, Williamson has a section addressing this issue on her website. On Twitter, she addressed the increase of anti-choice legislation across the nation. "A spate of state abortion bills appearing around the country are intended to overturn Roe v.Wade and intimidate women," she wrote. "Note to courts: American women cannot and will not be intimidated. We will make our own moral choices and our own biological decisions."
She also told ThinkProgress previously that she supports the use of federal funds to pay for abortion care.
Sen. Cory Booker
Booker has not launched a reproductive rights platform yet, but has positioned himself as an ally. In an open letter published in GQ, Booker emphasized women should not be the only ones speaking about this issue. "Men, it’s on us to listen, to speak out, and to take action," he wrote. "Not because women are our mothers, sisters, wives or friends—but because women are people. And all people deserve to control their own bodies."
When it comes to policy, Booker told BuzzFeed News he supported rolling back the Hyde Amendment, codifying Roe v. Wade into federal law, and nominating judges committed to upholding it.
Sen. Bernie Sanders
Reproductive rights are part of Sanders’ broader gender equity agenda, which also covers topics such as support for the Equal Rights Amendment and Title IX. Some of his promise include to nominate judges willing to uphold women’s rights, including abortion rights, and "fully fund Planned Parenthood, Title X, and other initiatives that protect women’s health, access to contraception, and the availability of a safe and legal abortion."
Former Vice President Joe Biden
Biden has spoken out against the recent onslaught of anti-abortion legislation. "Republicans in AL, FL, GA, and OH are ushering in laws that clearly violate Roe v Wade and they should be declared unconstitutional," he wrote on Twitter. " Roe v Wade is settled law and should not be overturned. This choice should remain between a woman and her doctor."
However, he has yet to unveil a reproductive rights platform. Biden has also been criticized for his record on the issue of abortion rights, including his support for the Hyde Amendment in the past.
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard
Gabbard does not address the issue of reproductive rights on her campaign website nor she has commented on the latest abortion bans. She did tell ThinkProgress previously that she supports the use of federal funds to pay for abortion care.
Mayor Pete Buttigieg
In his campaign website, Buttigieg called for the repeal of the Hyde Amendment. Of the Alabama ban, he tweeted: "The Alabama legislature is ignoring science, criminalizing abortion, and punishing women. Instead, the government’s role should be to make sure all women have access to comprehensive affordable care, and that includes safe and legal abortion."
O’Rourke has not unveiled a comprehensive reproductive rights platform, but on his website says that part of universal healthcare includes defending a woman’s right to choose an abortion. He also spoke forcefully against Alabama’s ban. "HB 314 is not only unconstitutional – it’s a radical attack on women across Alabama and America," he tweeted. "We won’t back down when it comes to fully protecting Roe v. Wad e, fighting dangerous efforts to roll back reproductive health care and defending a woman’s right to access an abortion."
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