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 ClintonClinton asked if she'd be Bloomberg's vice president: 'Oh no' Trump launches three-day campaign rally blitz Free Roger Stone 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 TrumpFed saw risks to US economy fading before coronavirus spread quickened Pro-Trump super PAC hits Biden with new Spanish-language ad in Nevada Britain announces immigration policy barring unskilled migrants 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 KaineThe Hill's Morning Report — AG Barr, GOP senators try to rein Trump in Overnight Defense: Senate votes to rein in Trump war powers on Iran | Pentagon shifting .8B to border wall | US, Taliban negotiate seven-day 'reduction in violence' Democratic senators ask FDA to ban device used to shock disabled students 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.