Roundups Politics

Campaign Week in Review: Sanders, Clinton Won’t Say ‘Abortion’ During Debate

Ally Boguhn

Republican Gov. John Kasich this week vowed to sign a measure to defund Planned Parenthood in Ohio, and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) admitted that most people disagree with his anti-choice position on abortion exceptions.

Democratic moderators this week failed yet again to ask the candidates about abortion rights while the candidates couldn’t bring themselves to utter the word “abortion,” Republican Gov. John Kasich vowed to sign a measure to defund Planned Parenthood in Ohio, and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) admitted that most people disagree with his anti-choice position on abortion exceptions.

Democratic Candidates Danced Around Abortion But Never Actually Said It

Yet another Democratic debate has come and gone without a single question about abortion rights​—but that doesn’t mean it didn’t come up over the course of the night.

Both Clinton and Sanders made a point of bringing up the topic. The only issue: neither of the Democratic presidential candidates could bring themselves to say the word “abortion.” Instead, the two carefully stepped around the term, noting their pro-choice records and intent to stand up for “women’s issues.”

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Take this statement from Clinton touting her endorsements from reproductive rights groups:

CLINTON: And I appreciate greatly Senator Sanders’ voting record. And I was very proud to get the endorsement of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, because I’ve been a leader on these issues. I have gone time and time again to take on the vested interests who would keep women’s health care decisions the province of the government instead of women ourselves.

I’m very proud that NARAL endorsed me because when it comes to it we need a leader on women’s issues. Somebody who, yes, votes right, but much more than that, leads the efforts to protect the hard-fought gains that women have made, that, make no mistake about it, are under tremendous attack, not just by the Republican presidential candidates but by a whole national effort to try to set back women’s rights.

Or Sanders discussing how Republicans want to interfere with “choice”:

SANDERS: Let me concur with the secretary, no question women’s rights are under fierce attack all over this country. And I’ll tell you something that really galls me. I will not shock anybody to suggest that in politics there is occasionally a little bit of hypocrisy. Just a little bit. All over this country we have Republican candidates for president saying we hate the government. Government is the enemy …. But, by the way, when it comes to a woman having to make a very personal choice, ah, in that case, my Republican colleagues love the government and want the government to make that choice for every woman in America. If that’s not hypocrisy, I don’t know what hypocrisy is.

As Fusion’s Katie McDonough noted, by the end of the exchange the candidates devoted 252 words to “make a statement that could have been made in 12 words: Abortion rights are under attack in this country. I will defend them.”

“Like I’ve said before, the Republican presidential contenders have had no problem saying ‘abortion’ in front of primetime audiences,” McDonough pointed out. “As state-level restrictions pile up, as the country’s most restrictive abortion ban is about to have its day in court, as the leading Republican candidates argue whether or not women should be allowed to terminate pregnancies in order to save their lives, Clinton’s and Sanders’ word-smithing about ‘choice’ rings increasingly hollow.”

Bill to Defund Planned Parenthood in Ohio Moves to Kasich’s Desk, Where He Promises to Sign It

Fresh off of his distant second-place victory in the New Hampshire GOP primaries thanks in part to positioning himself as a “moderate” alternative, Ohio Gov. John Kasich has vowed to sign anti-choice legislation that would defund Planned Parenthood in the state.

The bill will redirect public funds away from organizations that promote or provide abortion, but will not affect Medicaid funding, as Rewire reported. The legislation, which passed through the GOP-controlled Ohio state legislature Wednesday, would redirect $1.3 million in grants from Ohio’s Department of Health away from Planned Parenthood.

Although many states have pushed for similar bans on funding for Planned Parenthood, Ohio’s is unique in that it targets funding for programs unrelated to abortion instead of blocking Medicaid funding to the organization, according to the Washington Post:

The Ohio bill is different in that it targets state and federal programs addressing HIV/AIDS, domestic violence, infant mortality and other problems. Planned Parenthood receives a large percentage of that money every year to administer the programs across the state. Under the new bill, the organization would be barred from administering those programs because of its role as an abortion provider.

Planned Parenthood Advocates of Ohio, a political arm of the reproductive health provider, has mobilized against Kasich and his promise to move ahead with the legislation, targeting the Republican presidential candidate with a five-figure ad buy.

The ad notes that the funding cuts would affect a domestic violence prevention program and breast and cervical cancer screenings.

Rubio: “I Know That the Majority of Americans Don’t Agree With Me” on Abortion Exceptions

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) admitted Sunday that most voters don’t agree with his stringent opposition to abortion rights, even in cases of rape or incest.

During an appearance on ABC’s This Week, Rubio reasserted that should he be elected, he would sign anti-abortion measures that included exceptions for cases of rape and incest, but that he did not personally agree with them. Rubio, speaking with host George Stephanopoulos, explained that he supports anti-choice legislation that included exceptions for life endangerment and other measures he claimed would ultimately “save lives.”

“I do require an exception for life of the mother because I’m pro-life,” Rubio said. “The broader point I’ve made, however, is I believe all human life is worthy of the protection of our laws. That’s what I deeply and personally believe. And I’m not going to change my position on something that is so deep in me in order to win an election.”

When Stephanopoulos pushed Rubio to address what he would say to a rape victim who needed an abortion, the senator dismissed the circumstances, claiming that the fetus was more important.

“It’s a terrible situation. I mean, a crisis pregnancy, especially as a result of something as horrifying as that, I’m not telling you it’s easy. I’m not here saying it’s an easy choice. It’s a horrifying thing what you’ve just described,” said Rubio. “I get it, I really do. And that’s why this issue is so difficult. But I believe a human being, an unborn child, has a right to live, irrespective of the circumstances of which they were conceived. And I know that the majority of Americans don’t agree with me on that.”

Most Americans support exemptions to abortion bans in cases of rape or incest. Seventy-five percent of Americans believe abortion should be legal under these circumstances, according to Gallup.

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