Credo Action

Tell presidential debate moderators: Ask about abortion

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The petition to presidential debate moderators, Martha Raddatz and Anderson Cooper reads:

"Ask Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump about abortion rights and the state of reproductive health care in this country.”

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    Tell presidential debate moderators: Ask about abortion

    At a time when access to reproductive health care, especially abortion, is under relentless attack by right-wing extremists, NBC Nightly News anchor Lester Holt did not ask a single question about abortion during last week's presidential debate. And on Tuesday, CBS News correspondent Elaine Quijano failed to bring up reproductive health care during the vice presidential debate. Instead, Sen. Tim Kaine brought up abortion access on his own, and the candidates spent less than two minutes combined talking about women’s health.

    The entire Republican party is relentlessly focused on outlawing abortion and restricting access to reproductive health care at the local, state and federal levels. Women, especially low-income women and women of color, are unable to exercise their constitutionally protected right to access abortion because of these extremist attacks. Abortion access should be a part of the national conversation.

    We'll be delivering the petition signatures to CNN and ABC on Friday in advance of Sunday's big debate, so please add your name now.

    Tell presidential debate 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 presidential 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 myth that with one candidate so committed to abortion access that she’s ready to repeal the seemingly untouchable Hyde Amendment, and the other so eager to pander to the most anti-woman elements in the Republican party that he’s suggesting punishing women for their abortions, there’s nothing more to talk about when it comes to abortion. That couldn’t be further from the truth.

    Years of Republican attacks on abortion rights and reproductive health care have resulted in a national crisis for women’s health that has far-reaching effects on the health, economic security and well-being of millions of women and their families:

    • Lack of meaningful response to Zika: The Zika virus is a threat faced by countless Americans, particularly in states like Florida where access to reproductive health care is severely restricted. There are 3,625 cases of Zika in the United States.1 And as the number of infections continues to rise, especially among pregnant women, it’s clear that any meaningful response to Zika must include expanding access to family planning services.

    • Dangerous laws that put women’s lives at risk: Republicans have imposed excessive, medically unnecessary standards on comprehensive reproductive health care providers under the guise of protecting women’s health and safety. But, these Republican imposed restrictions are actually making women less safe. Maternal mortality doubled from 2011-14 in Texas, where more than 50 women’s health clinics have closed and other health providers have scaled back their hours and services because of laws that put restrictions on their operations.2

    • Bans on federal abortion funding that block access for low-income women and women of color: Among all of the barriers to accessing abortion for American women, financial burdens rank highest. The Hyde Amendment prevents low-income women from using public health insurance to access this medical service. Of women aged 15–44 enrolled in Medicaid, 60% live in the 35 states and the District of Columbia that do not offer state subsidized programs that cover abortion. Which means that more than seven million women of reproductive age, including 3.4 million who are living below the federal poverty level must pay out-of-pocket for safe, legal abortion.3

    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 attacks and that we expect our leaders to be in the forefront of that fight. That’s why we’re joining our friends at All* Above All Action Fund, NARAL Pro-Choice America, UltraViolet, National Organization for Women, and Feminist Majority Foundation to urge debate moderators to ask about abortion in the upcoming presidential debates. We cannot allow another debate to be held without addressing abortion rights, head-on.

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

    Thank you for standing up for women’s health.


    1. “Case Counts in the US,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Sept. 28, 2016.
    2. Katha Pollitt, ”The Story Behind the Maternal Mortality Rate in Texas Is Even Sadder Than We Realize, “ The Nation, Sept. 8, 2016.
    3. Heather D. Boonstra, “Abortion in the Lives of Women Struggling Financially: Why Insurance Coverage Matters,” Guttmacher Institute, July 14, 2016.