Abortion advocates have been complaining that the debates between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders haven’t devoted enough attention to abortion so far, but that changed a bit at Fox News’ Democratic presidential townhall. The two candidates appeared separately, but Bret Baier asked both abortion defenders whether they would be willing to draw the line at any stage of pregnancy.
Both candidates gave answers that are sure to satisfy their bases, but also make clear they haven’t been thought out on any deeper level.
First came Sanders, who reiterated his nonsensical smear that pro-lifers are hypocrites for wanting to “get government off our backs” yet believing government has a role in protecting children from violence (think about it). As to the specific answer of whether he could “name a single circumstance at any point in a pregnancy in which you would be OK with abortion being illegal”:
It’s not a question of me being okay. This will – thank you for the question, but I happen to believe — and let me be very clear about it. 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 am very strongly pro-choice. That is a decision to be made by the woman, her physician and her family. That’s my view.
This is perfectly in keeping with Sanders’ pro-abortion record—which consists of opposing every conceivable abortion regulation to come his way, forcing pro-life Americans to fund abortion, taking away states’ rights to make virtually any decision about abortion law, opposing legal recognition of wanted preborn babies, and more—but offers no justification for his absolutism.
At what point is it no longer solely a question of “her own body”? Why are almost fully-developed babies – potentially able to feel pain and survive outside the womb – still deserving of no protection? If you support early- and late-term abortions equally, then are you conceding early-stage embryos are just as alive and human as third-trimester fetuses? These are all follow-up questions raised by Sanders’s answer… questions, sadly, that went unasked.
Later, Baier also put the question to Clinton, who first tried to get away with a generic call to “stand up for a woman’s right to make these decisions,” which are “highly personal,” “and to defend Planned Parenthood.” When Baier asked for clarification about exceptions, she answered:
I have been on record in favor of a late pregnancy regulation that would have exceptions for the life and health of the mother. I object to the recent effort in Congress to pass a law saying after 20 weeks, you know, no such exceptions, because although these are rare, Bret, they sometimes arise in the most complex, difficult medical situation […] And so I think it is — under Roe v. Wade, it is appropriate to say, in these circumstances, so long as there’s an exception for the life and health of the mother.
Hillary’s pro-abortion record is every bit as uncompromising as Sanders’s but she knows how to pretend reasonable. And what could be more reasonable than keeping women’s health in mind?
Unfortunately, as we’ve covered before, in practice this means nothing. It sounds to the well-meaning audience at home like Clinton’s saying she would only permit late-term abortions if they were necessary to save Mom from death or a major physical injury (even though they wouldn’t be necessary in emergencies anyway), but in the context of abortion law “health” has been defined by the Supreme Court to mean any “physical, emotional, psychological,” or “familial” factor that can be construed as “relevant to the wellbeing of the patient.”
Accordingly, every time she’s had the opportunity to demonstrate her alleged moderation, she’s instead opposed banning late-term and even partial-birth abortion… never mind the fact that those laws contained health exceptions. It turns out that when you define health in a way the abortion industry can’t manipulate to mean whatever it wants, Clinton doesn’t think it’s so reasonable anymore.
Unfortunately, this discrepancy between her rhetoric and her record didn’t get followed-up, either. So while it’s good that Bret Baier again highlighted Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders’s abortion positions, he didn’t provide us with anything we didn’t already know. We are still a long way off from the media giving pro-abortion activists the scrutiny they deserve.