Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders discussed abortion onstage when asked for the first time after seven Democratic debates and multiple town halls.
The lack of discussion on abortion throughout the Democratic debate and town hall circuit has been criticized by some, including Planned Parenthood.
Although the Democratic Party is generally supportive of abortion rights, which may have played part in why it was not previously discussed, many believe the topic should have been introduced — particularly after recent controversy surrounding Planned Parenthood and the shooting in Colorado Springs at a Planned Parenthood clinic that left three dead.
“Can you name a single circumstance at any point in a pregnancy in which you would be okay with abortion being illegal?” moderator Bret Baier asked both candidates during the Fox News town hall.
“It’s not a question of me being OK,” Sanders said, thanking Baier for the question. “I know not everybody here will agree with me. I happen to believe that it is wrong for the government to be telling a woman what to do with her own body … I understand there are honest people. I mean, I have a lot of friends, some supporters, some disagree. They hold a different point of view, and I respect that.”
Sanders then criticized the rhetoric of Republicans surrounding abortion, indirectly accusing them of hypocrisy.
“I’ll tell you something which I don’t like in this debate,” Sanders said. “There are a whole lot of people out there who tell me the government is terrible, government is awful, get government off our backs. My Republican friends want to cut Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare — Medicaid, education. But somehow on this issue, they want to tell every woman in America what she should do with her body.”
Clinton received a similar question from Baier, asking if she believed a child should have any legal rights or protections before birth and if she thinks there should not be restrictions on abortions at any stage during pregnancy.
“Well, again, let me put this in context, because it’s an important question,” Clinton said. “Right now the Supreme Court is considering a decision that would shut down a lot of the options for women in Texas, and there have been other legislatures that have taken similar steps to try to restrict a woman’s right to obtain an abortion. Under Roe v. Wade, which is rooted in the Constitution, women have this right to make this highly personal decision with their family in accordance with their faith, with their doctor. It’s not much of a right if it is totally limited and constrained. So I think we have to continue to stand up for a woman’s right to make these decisions, and to defend Planned Parenthood, which does an enormous amount of good work across our country.”
Some were surprised the issue of abortion was brought up on Fox News Channel, which some consider to be conservative-leaning.
“It took Fox News to ask the first question about abortion at a Democratic town hall or debate,” Sanders said on Twitter.
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