Campaign Week in Review: Martin O’Malley Pitches Universal Reproductive Health-Care Coverage

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Campaign Week in Review: Martin O’Malley Pitches Universal Reproductive Health-Care Coverage

Ally Boguhn

Martin O’Malley released his health-care platform promising universal contraceptive coverage, Marco Rubio shifted his position on allowing exceptions to abortion bans, Hillary Clinton suggested that the Helms Amendment be reevaluated, and Republicans convened in Iowa to complain that their attacks on abortion aren’t gaining traction because of political correctness.

This week on the presidential campaign trail, Martin O’Malley released his health-care platform promising universal contraceptive coverage, Marco Rubio shifted his position on allowing exceptions to abortion bans, Hillary Clinton suggested that the Helms Amendment be reevaluated, and Republicans convened in Iowa to complain that their attacks on abortion aren’t gaining traction because of political correctness.

Martin O’Malley Releases Health-Care Platform Promising Support for Universal Access to Reproductive Health Services

Democratic presidential candidate and former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley released his health-care policy platform Tuesday, promising to expand health coverage to more Americans and pledging support for universal reproductive services.

Center to O’Malley’s platform is a goal of insuring 95 percent of Americans by the year 2020, which he proposes achieving in part by: building upon the precedent set by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) through the expansion of Medicaid in states that have so far refused to expand it; addressing high deductibles; and implementing a series of fixes to the ACA as it currently stands.

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O’Malley’s plan features a promise to “support universal access to reproductive health care” in order to help people “make the best possible choices for themselves and their future.” To that end, the presidential candidate advocates universal access to both prenatal care and family planning.

The plan outlines how O’Malley “will adopt early access to comprehensive prenatal care as a major quality measure for health systems and states, as a percentage of all births. He will also provide funding and hold states accountable for providing quality prenatal care for those who are uninsured,” should he be elected.

It also details his intention to push states to be held accountable for ensuring access to reproductive health care for their residents, which would “include equity in access to long-acting reversible contraception, and support for education so that women can make choices for themselves based on complete and accurate information.”

O’Malley’s plan did not address whether abortion care would be included in his push to ensure access to reproductive health services.

Another priority listed in O’Malley’s platform would be to tackle health disparities for underserved communities [who] suffer disproportionately from poor health outcomes” through the restoration of funding to community health centers in order to promote access to health services.

Marco Rubio Shifts Position on Abortion Exceptions: “I, As President, Will Sign a Bill That Has Exceptions”

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) again shifted his stance on abortion exceptions, telling a reporter that although he personally doesn’t support allowing the procedure in cases of rape, incest, or when the life of the mother is in danger, he would still sign legislation that included them.

“I, as president, will sign a bill that has exceptions. I’ve supported bills that have exceptions,” said Rubio during an interview with the Associated Press.

“I do not personally require a bill to have exceptions—other than life of the mother—in order for me to support it,” he continued. “But I will sign a bill as president that has exceptions.”

During the August GOP primary debate hosted by Fox News, Rubio denied that he had ever been in favor of such policies. After moderator Megyn Kelly said his voting record favored “a rape and incest exception to abortion bans” and asked him to clarify how the stance was consistent with the belief that life begins at conception, the presidential candidate fired back that she was wrong.

“I’m not sure that that’s a correct assessment of my record,” said Rubio.

“I have never said that. And I have never advocated that,” he continued. “What I have advocated is that we pass law in this country that says all human life at every stage of its development is worthy of protection. In fact, I think that law already exists. It is called the Constitution of the United States.”

Politifact later rated Rubio’s claim “mostly false,” noting the candidate’s prior support of legislation that contained the kinds of exceptions Kelly had outlined despite having found “no evidence that Rubio has generally favored those types of exceptions” or that he had specifically advocated for them.

In 2013, Rubio co-sponsored the “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act,” which would have banned abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy, but also included an exception for pregnancies that were the result of rape or incest. When Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) reintroduced a similar measure in 2015, Rubio again signed on despite the legislation containing an exception for rape.

Clinton Suggests Reexamining Law Banning Foreign Assistance Funds From Paying for Abortion

Speaking at a campaign stop in Iowa on Sunday, Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said that the United States should reexamine a law that bans foreign assistance dollars from paying for abortions.

After a member of the audience of an Iowa town hall event asked Clinton about her position on the 1973 Helms Amendment, which says, “No foreign assistance funds may be used to pay for the performance of abortion as a method of family planning.” Given that rape is increasingly being used as a weapon of war, Clinton commented the law may need to be worked around, reported CNN.

“I do think we have to take a look at this for conflict zones,” said Clinton. “And if the United States government, because of very strong feelings against it, maintains our prohibition, then we are going to have to work through nonprofit groups and work with other counties to … provide the support and medical care that a lot of these women need.”

In August, congressional Democrats urged President Obama to reinterpret the Helms Amendment, asking for guidance to be issued clarifying that exemptions to the law could be made “in the events of rape, incest, or a danger to a woman’s life,” calling the current interpretation “both overly restrictive and inconsistent with established legal precedent.”

Democrats again took up the cause in October, explaining in a letter to the president that women in war zones face a reproductive health crisis. “We write to express our deep concern for the reproductive health of women and girls who are kidnapped, enslaved, tortured, raped, and impregnated in conflict-affected zones worldwide,” wrote the senators before asking the law be relaxed. “We encourage you to take this opportunity to ensure that the U.S. is correctly implementing the Helms Amendment.”

Republicans Blast “Political Correctness” for Interfering With Their Campaign to End Abortion

Seven Republican presidential candidates gathered in Iowa on Friday in an attempt to woo evangelical voters at influential anti-choice advocate Bob Vander Plaats’ Presidential Family Forum.

Carly Fiorina, Mike Huckabee, Ben Carson, Rick Santorum, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) convened in Des Moines late last week for a three-hour Thanksgiving-themed event deemed the “final exam” before Vander Plaats, head of the evangelical advocacy group The Family Leader, announces which candidate he will officially endorse for president.

Among the topics of discussion that night were consistent complaints that “political correctness” had played a role in criticism of the candidates’ anti-choice talking points and their attempts to pass restrictive anti-abortion legislation.

Paul complained that Republicans have “been pushed, we’ve been bullied and we’ve been beaten down” for their views on the issue, calling for lawmakers to stop being “afraid of political correctness.”

“We can win the battle, but we can’t be afraid of political correctness,” said Paul.

Fiorina doubled down on already debunked talking points made during a previous Republican presidential debate about discredited anti-abortion group the Center for Medical Progress’ deceptively edited videos.

“There are literally millions of people in this country who still believe it is not true that Planned Parenthood alters abortion procedures and engages in late-term abortions for the purposes of harvesting body parts,” said Fiorina. “That’s how dangerous this political correctness and mix of media decision about what to talk about and what not to talk about has become.”