Welcome to Hindsight 2020, Refinery29's weekly column reflecting on the women running for president and the lessons learned (or not!) from 2016.
The topic of abortion rights has long been treated as a niche issue within the Democratic party, to the dismay of advocates who have sounded the alarm about unrelenting conservative attacks against reproductive healthcare. But in a crowded field of presidential hopefuls, the women stood out for how quickly and sharply they responded to these bans. Like Gillibrand, her colleagues Sens. Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, and Amy Klobuchar, alongside author and spiritual leader Marianne Williamson, spoke forcefully against the rise of anti-abortion legislation.
Ahead, we break down where these women and other presidential candidates currently stand when it comes to women's healthcare and reproductive justice.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand
Sen. Elizabeth Warren
On Friday, Sen. Elizabeth Warren unveiled her own reproductive rights platform, calling for Congress to pass a group of federal laws protecting access to reproductive care even in the event Roe falls. These include codifying access to abortion in the federal statute, repealing the Hyde Amendment, reversing the Trump administration's gag rule, and passing a bill blocking states from enacting onerous anti-abortion restrictions such as the targeted regulations on abortion providers (TRAP) laws.
Sen. Kamala Harris
While Harris has yet to launch her reproductive rights platform, she promises on her campaign website to ensure that "reproductive rights are not just protected by the Constitution of the United States but guaranteed in every state." She also spoke up against Alabama's HB 314, which bans abortion at any stage of gestation, except in cases in which the woman's life is in danger. The legislation, which makes no exceptions for cases of rape or incest, makes performing an abortion a felony offence.
"We must say loud and clear that women's healthcare is under attack," Harris tweeted. "We will not stand for it and we won’t go down without a fight. Too much is at stake."
Sen. Amy Klobuchar
Klobuchar does not have a section dedicated to her reproductive rights platform on her campaign website, but called the Alabama ban "unconstitutional." She also tweeted about the Missouri eight-week abortion ban: "This is a coordinated attack on women's health and an attempt to turn back the clock to a time before Roe v. Wade. We have to stop this."
Although she has not unveiled her reproductive rights platform yet, Williamson has a section addressing this issue on her website. On Twitter, she addressed the increase of anti-choice legislation across the nation. "A spate of state abortion bills appearing around the country are intended to overturn Roe v.Wade and intimidate women," she wrote. "Note to courts: American women cannot and will not be intimidated. We will make our own moral choices and our own biological decisions."
She also told ThinkProgress previously that she supports the use of federal funds to pay for abortion care.
Sen. Cory Booker
Booker has not launched a reproductive rights platform, but has positioned himself as an ally. In an open letter published in GQ, Booker emphasised women should not be the only ones speaking about this issue. "Men, it’s on us to listen, to speak out, and to take action," he wrote. "Not because women are our mothers, sisters, wives, or friends — but because women are people. And all people deserve to control their own bodies."
Booker told BuzzFeed News he supported rolling back the Hyde Amendment, codifying Roe v. Wade into federal law, and nominating judges committed to upholding it.
Sen. Bernie Sanders
Reproductive rights are part of Sanders' broader gender equity agenda, which also covers topics such as support for the Equal Rights Amendment and Title IX. Some of his promises include to nominate judges willing to uphold women’s rights, including abortion rights, and "fully fund Planned Parenthood, Title X, and other initiatives that protect women’s health, access to contraception, and the availability of a safe and legal abortion."
Former Vice President Joe Biden
Biden has spoken out against the recent onslaught of anti-abortion legislation. "Republicans in AL, FL, GA, and OH are ushering in laws that clearly violate Roe v. Wade and they should be declared unconstitutional," he wrote on Twitter. "Roe v. Wade is settled law and should not be overturned. This choice should remain between a woman and her doctor."
However, he has yet to unveil a reproductive rights plan. Biden has also been criticised for his record on the issue of abortion rights, including his support for the Hyde Amendment in the past.
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard
Gabbard does not address the issue of reproductive rights on her campaign website, nor has she commented on the latest abortion bans. She did tell ThinkProgress previously that she supports the use of federal funds to pay for abortion care.
Mayor Pete Buttigieg
On his campaign website, Buttigieg called for the repeal of the Hyde Amendment. Of the Alabama ban, he tweeted: "The Alabama legislature is ignoring science, criminalising abortion, and punishing women. Instead, the government's role should be to make sure all women have access to comprehensive affordable care, and that includes safe and legal abortion."
O'Rourke has not unveiled a comprehensive reproductive rights platform, but on his website he says that part of universal healthcare includes defending a woman's right to choose an abortion. He also spoke forcefully against Alabama's ban. "HB 314 is not only unconstitutional — it's a radical attack on women across Alabama and America," he tweeted. "We won't back down when it comes to fully protecting Roe v. Wade, fighting dangerous efforts to roll back reproductive healthcare, and defending a woman’s right to access an abortion."