Liberal groups want debate spotlight on abortion rights

Liberal groups want debate spotlight on abortion rights
© Francis Rivera

Abortion rights groups want to give Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonTop Sanders adviser: Warren isn't competing for 'same pool of voters' Anti-Trump vets join Steyer group in pressing Democrats to impeach Trump Republicans plot comeback in New Jersey MORE a chance to declare her support for their cause at Sunday night’s much-anticipated presidential debate.

The leaders of eight liberal groups — including NARAL Pro-Choice America, Planned Parenthood and Emily’s List — sent a letter Thursday urging the moderators to ask about what they call “a crisis of abortion access.”

“Abortion is not a ‘niche’ issue,” the groups wrote in the letter, which was shared first with The Hill.

ADVERTISEMENT

The presidential debate, which is the second out of three before the general election on Nov. 8, would be the largest forum to date for either candidate to discuss abortion.

The divisive issue has already been a major talking point for Clinton, the Democratic presidential nominee, on the campaign trail this year. Her supporters hope that bringing it up at a nationally televised debate could create a moment of weakness for Republican presidential Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump pushes back on recent polling data, says internal numbers are 'strongest we've had so far' Illinois state lawmaker apologizes for photos depicting mock assassination of Trump Scaramucci assembling team of former Cabinet members to speak out against Trump MORE.

Trump, who has recently worked to build up his anti-abortion base, has reversed his position on abortion in recent years. This year, he stumbled on a talking point during an interview, saying that women should be “punished” for abortions.

He later walked back the comment, though it was used as an attack by Clinton’s running mate, Sen. Tim KaineTimothy (Tim) Michael KaineA lesson of the Trump, Tlaib, Omar, Netanyahu affair Warren's pledge to avoid first nuclear strike sparks intense pushback Almost three-quarters say minimum age to buy tobacco should be 21: Gallup MORE (D-Va.), at this week’s vice presidential debate during a question on abortion.

Democrats increasingly see the issue of abortion as a rallying cry for their base, particularly the young women who have been more reluctant to support Clinton. Planned Parenthood gave its first-ever presidential primary endorsement to Clinton this year and has spent millions to back her candidacy.

Abortion-rights groups have long warned about threats by Republican-held state legislatures, which have been increasingly aggressive in restricting access to the procedure.

In the last year alone, 14 states have passed new restrictions on abortion. Some of those restrictions, however, have been struck down in court, including this year’s major ruling against the 2013 Texas law.

“Despite the fact that seven in 10 Americans support legal abortion, politicians at every level of government are actively trying — and in many cases succeeding — in blocking access to what is at the end of the day a constitutionally protected right,” the groups wrote in the letter to debate moderators Anderson Cooper and Martha Raddatz.