Calls for unity and promises of “bringing Americans together” have been a staple in nearly every Democratic candidate for president’s campaign. Joe Biden says we “need a president who can bring people together.” Pete Buttigieg says he wants to “lead a United America.” And while appearing on The View, Senator Amy Klobuchar said “we need to bring people in instead of shutting them out,” including people who are against access to abortion care.
Kumbaya-esque mental images of people who support unfettered bodily autonomy and those who oppose it might seem ideal to the centrist Democrat from Minnesota, but Klobuchar arguing that the Democratic party should make room for anti-abortion voters is disqualifying. In an effort to “bring people together,” Klobuchar is throwing the people who consistently show up for the Democratic party under the proverbial bus.
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On Tuesday, The View host Meghan McCain asked Klobuchar, “Do you think there’s room for pro-life Democrats to vote for you?” Klobuchar responded, “I’m strongly pro-choice. I have always been pro-choice, but I believe we’re a big tent party. And there are pro-life Democrats, and they are part of our party. And I think we need to build a big tent.”
She shared a similar sentiment with a potential male voter who asked her if there’s “room in her coalition for pro-life people.” According to this voter, Klobuchar said, “Yes of course.” He also asked if she’d try to “find common ground on bringing down the number of abortions,” and Klobuchar responded by saying “yes” and sharing her work in the adoption caucus in the Senate.
Klobuchar isn’t the only Democrat running for president who has attempted to appease anti-choicers. Senator Bernie Sanders, who won the New Hampshire primary, campaigned for an anti-choice mayoral candidate in 2017. While touting the need for a more progressive party, Sanders defended his decision, telling NPR “We have got to appreciate where people come from, and do our best to fight for the pro-choice agenda. But I think you just can’t exclude people who disagree with us on one issue.”
But the right to access safe, legal, affordable abortion care, sans unnecessary waiting periods and other legislated barriers, is more than just a political “issue.” Studies have shown that when pregnant people cannot have the abortions they want and need, they’re more likely to experience serious pregnancy complications, more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety, and more likely to stay with abusive partners. They’re also more likely to live below the federal poverty level, and more likely to give up on career and/or educational aspirations.
Limiting access to abortion also hurts children. The Turnaway Study, which examined what happens to when when they’re denied abortion, found that children of those who cannot access the care they need are more likely to live in poverty and less likely to achieve developmental milestones.
These negative impacts are felt by black, brown, and poor pregnant people the most — the very people who are responsible for the Democratic party’s success. While white voters are more inclined to vote Republican, according to the Pew Research Study, black, Latinx, and Asian voters are overwhelming Democrat. And even though 53 per cent of white women voted for Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election, 56 per cent of women overall affiliate with or lean toward the Democratic party.
The “big tent” Klobuchar wants to build for anti-choice voters will be built on the backs of the very people she needs to ascend to the presidency.
At a time when the right to access abortion care is under siege — when 90 per cent of counties in the US do not have an abortion provider, six states only have one clinic that provides abortion, and over 200 GOP politicians have signed an AMICUS brief urging a now conservative-leaning Supreme Court to overturn Roe v Wade — the last thing the American people need is a president who believes winning is worth risking pregnant people’s bodily autonomy.
We don’t need a president worried about “bringing down the number of abortions” — we need a president who will focus on decreasing the number of abortion restrictions, increasing the number of abortion providers, and expanding access by repealing the Hyde Amendment, which bans federal funds from paying for abortions.
We need someone who doesn’t debate abortion because they know it is not up for debate — the majority of Americans support access to abortion care. We need a leader who knows that to play politics with a constitutional right afforded to every person who can get pregnant is to take a page from Donald Trump’s political playbook. Once proudly pro-choice, Trump “changed his mind” to secure the evangelical vote, a vote that no-doubt helped him secure the presidency in 2016. He showed voters early on that his so-called principles were for sale, and now we have children in cages on the southern border.
If Democrats are going to continue to hail themselves as the party of moral order, then every Democrat should avoid building a tent and, instead, draw a line.