Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) on Monday vowed to use the Department of Justice to combat state-level restrictions on reproductive rights.
“It is no secret that in states all over this country, in a dozen different ways, there are governors and legislatures who are trying to make it impossible for a woman to control her own body,” Sanders said during a Monday town hall event broadcast on MSNBC.
“I will use the Department of Justice to go after those states in every way that I legally can,” Sanders continued. “I believe that in the United States of America women have that right to control their own body, and I find that, I must say, completely hypocritical for my Republican colleagues who tell us every day how much they hate government, how they want to get government out of our life, but they think that local state and federal government have the right to tell you and every woman in America what she can do with her body.”
Sanders charged that protecting “a woman’s right to choose” would be a priority for him when filling Supreme Court vacancies, secondary to overturning the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling, which ended limits on corporate campaign donations.
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Of the 1,022 provisions introduced in legislatures in 45 states this year, 411 restrict abortion access, according to analysis from the Guttmacher Institute. A total of 21 restrictions have been enacted this year in five states—Florida, Indiana, Kentucky, South Dakota, and Utah—in what the organization calls an “ongoing assault on access to sexual and reproductive health services.”
Missouri’s GOP-held legislature has led all states in the number of anti-choice measures introduced in 2016, with 28 such laws introduced by legislators there, according to a Rewire analysis.
While speaking to the National Federation of Democratic Women in South Carolina, Sanders in November promised to fight the anti-choice “counter-revolution” happening in GOP-led state legislatures across the country.
The Vermont senator vowed in February to work with Congress to repeal both the Hyde Amendment, which restricts most federal funding for abortion care, and the Helms Amendment, which stops foreign assistance funds from being used for abortion care.