Gillibrand Ends Campaign, Leaves Behind Democratic Field in Lockstep on Abortion

Listen to the Article!

By Patrick Goodenough | August 29, 2019 | 4:47 AM EDT

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand on the campaign trail in Florida in June. (Photo by Rhona Wise/AFP/Getty Images)

(CNSNews.com) – The most pro-abortion field of presidential hopefuls in history has lost a flagbearer on the issue with the departure Wednesday of Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), although those still in the Democratic race are competing to embrace positions on abortion – including late-term abortion – viewed by many as extreme.

Gillibrand, who failed to reach the polling threshold required to make it onto the stage for the next primary debate, announced her decision to end her campaign with a Twitter message and video clip in which she claimed her campaign had “moved the entire field along with us.”

“We put the civil rights of women front and center and never backed down when it comes to valuing them,” she said, against a backdrop of her speaking in Georgia last May, on a visit to condemn new abortion laws in that state.

During that visit to Georgia, Gillibrand pledged as president to codify Roe vs. Wade into law; to end the Hyde Amendment (which prohibits federal funding of abortion except in cases of rape, incest, or when the mother’s life is endangered); and, in what she described as her “most sweeping step” as president, to “guarantee access to reproductive healthcare – including abortion – no matter what state you live in.”

“I would ensure that no state can prevent private insurance from covering abortion as reproductive health care,” she added.

The following month, Gillibrand in an interview with the Des Moines Register essentially equated pro-life views with racism and anti-Semitism, declaring that for such issues, there is no “fair other side” of the argument.

“There is no moral equivalency when you come to racism,” she said. “And I do not believe there is a moral equivalency when it comes to changing laws that deny women reproductive freedom.”

Reacting to Gillibrand’s announcement Wednesday Emily’s List, the group dedicated to getting “pro-choice Democratic women” elected to federal, state, and local office, thanked her for elevating “reproductive freedom, LGBTQ rights, paid leave, and so much more.”

In its reaction, by contrast, a PAC established this year with the aim of getting a pro-life Democrat into the 2020 race tweeted of Gillibrand, “She compared pro-life people to racists and anti-Semites. Her early exit should show that extremism doesn’t win.”

As it stands, the remaining field offers little hope for the PAC’s campaign.

NARAL Pro-Choice America has given all six remaining senators in the race a 100 percent ranking for 2018.

And when Gillibrand last February voted to block the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, all six of them joined her in doing so: Sens. Cory Booker (N.J.), Kamala Harris (Calif.), Amy Klobuchar (Minn.), Elizabeth Warren (Mass.), Bernie Sanders (Vt.), and Michael Bennet (Colo.)

The legislation sought to ensure that a baby born alive during a botched abortion receives the same level of care as any other newborn infant.

Earlier, when Virginia and New York state put the issue of late-term abortions on the agenda – and Trump in his State of the Union urged Congress to ban the practice – Gillibrand said in a statement that “there is zero place for politicians to be involved in these very complicated medical decisions, and they should only be made between a woman and her doctor – period, full stop.”

Sens. Kamala Harris and Cory Booker and former Vice President Joe Biden debate in July. (Photo by Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images)

Senators in the 2020 race have also all thrown their support behind legislation to repeal permanently the Mexico City Policy. The Reagan-era policy, reviled by abortion advocates, withholds health assistance funding from non-governmental organizations that promote or perform abortions, or give money to other NGOs that promote or perform abortions.

Booker, Warren, Sanders, Harris, Klobuchar, Bennet (and Gillibrand) were all among the co-sponsors of the bill, introduced in February by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.)

Democratic presidential contenders outside the Senate are also pushing policies on abortion that polling indicates go against mainstream thinking in the United States.

South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg was asked at a town hall last May whether there should be any limit on the right to an abortion “at any point in pregnancy – whether it’s at six weeks or eight weeks or 24 weeks or whenever.”

“You know, I think the dialogue has got so caught up on when you draw the line that we’ve gotten away from the fundamental question of who gets to draw the line,” he replied. “And I trust women to draw the line.”

Gallup polling over 22 years has found between eight and 14 percent support for abortions in a third trimester of pregnancy.

Campaigning in Cleveland, Ohio last March former Rep. Beto O’Rourke was asked if he supported third-trimester abortions. His questioner pointed out that the baby in such a case may be viable outside of the womb, and could in an emergency be delivered by caesarean section.

“So, the question is about abortion and reproductive rights,’ O’Rourke said. “And my answer to you is that that should be a decision that the woman makes about her body. I trust her.”

When O’Rourke visited the College of Charleston early this week, a man challenged him on the issue, recalling his earlier answer in Ohio, and saying: “My question is this: I was born Sept. 8, 1989, and I want to know if you think on Sept. 7, 1989, my life had no value.”

“Of course I don’t think that. And of course I’m glad that you’re here,” O’Rourke began. “But you referenced my answer in Ohio, and it remains the same: This is a decision that neither you, nor I, nor the United States government should be making. That’s a decision for the woman to make.”

Another presidential hopeful, businessman Andrew Yang, is quoted on his campaign website as saying that while he respects the feelings many Americans have on the issue of abortion, “it should always be up to the woman what to do. I have the feeling that if men became pregnant instead of women there would be absolutely no restriction on reproductive rights.”

Former HUD Secretary Julian Castro, a Roman Catholic, told the New York Times Magazine in 2010 – when he was mayor of San Antonio, Texas – that on the question of abortion, “We disagree on this, the pope and I.”

And former Vice President Joe Biden made waves over the summer when he flip-flopped over the issue of whether he supports the Hyde Amendment. He now no longer does.

Until 2016, no Democratic Party platform pledged to repeal the Hyde Amendment. That changed three years ago.

Patrick Goodenough
Patrick Goodenough
Spencer Journalism Fellow

Sponsored Links