Join Rewire.News for a weekly look at how reproductive health, rights, and justice issues are popping up on the 2020 campaign trail.
Anti-Choice Louisiana Democrat Endorses Biden
Former Vice President Joe Biden this week touted endorsements from a host of Louisiana lawmakers ahead of the state’s Democratic primary election April 4. Among the endorsements: state Sen. Gerald Boudreaux (D-Lafayette), who joined the state senate’s Republican majority last year in approving a near-total ban on abortion. Thirty-one state senators voted for the ban, and five voted against it, the Advocate reported.
Biden was endorsed by more than a dozen members of the Louisiana Legislative Black Caucus, including Boudreaux and Louisiana Senate Democratic caucus chair Troy Carter Sr., who voted against the state’s near-total abortion ban.
Many Democratic legislators in Louisiana oppose abortion rights, including Gov. John Bel Edwards (D), who signed the 2019 near-total abortion ban. State Sen. Katrina Jackson (D-Monroe) has been among the most prominent anti-choice voices in the state house, where last year as a state representative she filed a measure asking voters to approve a constitutional amendment that says nothing in the state constitution protects the right to perform or receive abortion care.
Louisiana Right to Life gave Boudreaux an 87 percent “pro-life voting record” in 2019.
Boudreaux and Biden did not respond to inquiries from Rewire.News.
Advocates Criticize Yang’s Abortion Comments
Entrepreneur Andrew Yang ended his presidential bid after finishing eighth in the New Hampshire primary election Tuesday, but not without receiving criticism for saying a few days prior that abortion rights advocates should change the way they talk about abortion if they hope to unite voters on the issue.
“We have to get back to the point where no one is suggesting that we celebrate an abortion at any point in the pregnancy,” Yang said during a forum on reproductive rights and the federal courts with candidates vying for the Democratic presidential nomination.
“It’s a tragedy to me if someone decides that they don’t want to have a child and they’re on the fence … it’s a very, very difficult personal decision,” he said.
Leila Abolfazli, director of federal reproductive rights at the National Women’s Law Center, said Yang’s abortion discourse betrays a lack of understanding of personal experiences with abortion care.
“I invite anyone who would like to describe abortion to actually hear the stories of those who have sought the care,” Abolfazli said in a statement. “If they did, they would hear, that at its core, access to abortion actually is about taking care of ourselves, our communities, and the people we love. Language like ‘tragedy’ is not rooted in the reality of the lived experiences of those who seek abortion care.”
That Yang, whose campaign site is explicitly pro-choice, would use the word “tragedy” in talking about abortion demonstrates just how successful the anti-choice movement has been in defining the terms used to discuss reproductive rights.
“People across the country are waking up to the desperate need for comprehensive action to address the dire state of abortion,” Abolfazli said. “But many still lack an understanding of what abortion access actually is and the people at the center of the care. Statements like these are not surprising but instead reflect how the anti-abortion movement’s extreme rhetoric has been folded into the national discourse.”
What Else We’re Reading
InStyle highlighted the five women lawyers for the American Civil Liberties Union’s Reproductive Freedom Project fighting for abortion rights all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court. They say they “all had incredibly different plans heading into the 2016 election.”
FiveThirtyEight has Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) leading the Democratic field in the February 22 Nevada primary. Biden had led in the Silver State for months until Sanders took the lead in early February.