Credo Action

Debate moderators: Ask candidates real questions about abortion rights

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The petition to debate sponsors and moderators reads:

"Ask Democratic presidential candidates questions about abortion rights and the state of reproductive health care in this country."

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    Debate moderators: Ask candidates real questions about abortion rights

    At a time when women’s right to access reproductive health care, especially abortion care, is under relentless attack by right-wing extremists, not one question about abortion has been asked in any of the seven Democratic presidential debates.

    When the entire Republican party, from the city to the national level, is almost singularly focused on outlawing abortion, this is a major issue and voters have the right to hear how the pro-choice Democratic candidates plan to protect women’s reproductive health care in this country.

    With the final debates of the 2016 primary campaign coming up, including a debate this Wednesday, it’s time moderators engage Sec. Clinton and Sen. Sanders about abortion.

    Tell debate sponsors and moderators: It’s time to talk about abortion.

    Abortion and reproductive health care play a deep and profound role in the economic and physical well being of every woman. Leaving these issues out of the public conversation between the Democrat’s pro-choice candidates has two terrible consequences. First, it perpetuates and legitimizes the right-wing’s anti-woman narrative that abortion is a behavior that should be silenced and stigmatized. Second, it reinforces the idea that with two pro-choice candidates, there’s nothing more to talk about as far as women’s reproductive health care is concerned. That couldn’t be further from the truth.

    Our friends Jodi Jacobson at RHRealityCheck and Ilyse Hogue at NARAL Pro-Choice America have suggested some questions that could be posed to the candidates.1, 2 They show how much this conversation is needed, and how much we stand to lose if the silence on the national stage around abortion and women’s reproductive health care continues:

    • What would you do if the Supreme Court rules that states have sweeping authority to restrict abortion access and half the abortion clinics in the country close overnight?
    • How do you plan to repeal the Hyde amendment and restore public funding for abortion in the face of a hostile Congress?
    • Do you think religiously affiliated medical centers should be able to deny people essential health care? Do you believe that hospitals and clinics that deny women care should be eligible for government funding?
    • Do you consider clinic violence to be domestic terrorism, and if so, how will you respond?
    • What will you do to address the fact that under the Affordable Care Act millions of women have lost insurance coverage for abortion care?

    Protecting a woman’s right to safe, legal abortion, as affirmed in Roe v. Wade, is a core progressive value. Conversation about abortion in the debates will serve as an important reminder that we have hard work ahead to defend that right from extremist attack and that we expect our leaders to be in the forefront of that fight.

    We cannot allow another debate to be held without abortion rights being addressed, head-on. Help us demand that debate sponsors and moderators ask questions about abortion in the remaining Democratic debates.

    Thank you for standing up for women and women’s health today.

    References:

    1. Jodi Jacobson, “Stop Playing Word Games: Debate Moderators Must Ask Honest Questions About Abortion, RHRealityCheck, February 10, 2016.
    2. Ilyse Hogue, “Why the moderators of Thursday’s Democratic debate must #AskAboutAbortion,” Medium, February 10, 2016.