15 Questions on Reproductive Rights We Want to Hear During the Democratic Debate

Abortion has largely been ignored in the Democratic presidential primary debates. The Rewire.News staff has questions for Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders that will give voters insight into where they stand on reproductive rights.

[Photo: Jake Tapper listens on during a Democratic town hall.]
CNN's Jake Tapper will be one of the Democratic debate moderators on March 15. Gary Miller/FilmMagic

UPDATE, March 12, 2:05 p.m.: The Democratic National Committee announced Thursday afternoon that Sunday’s debate is being moved to Washington, D.C.

You may have noticed a dearth of moderator questions about abortion rights in the ten Democratic presidential primary debates over the past nine months.

We at Rewire.News sure have.

With former Vice President Joe Biden and U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) as the two viable candidates left, it’s time for voters to hear where they stand on critical reproductive health issues. There are a wealth of concerns: Coordinated nationwide Republican attack on abortion access continues unabated; state-level Republican lawmakers are ignoring the U.S. Constitution to outlaw abortion; the Trump administration is stacking the federal courts with anti-choice judges; and the U.S. Supreme Court is primed to rule on a case that could decimate abortion access in states with Republican-held legislatures. And yet, in past debates, we haven’t gotten questions that dig into these issues to give voters adequate insight into where the candidates stand on reproductive rights.

Sanders and Biden will debate each other Sunday in Arizona after Biden expanded his delegate lead on Tuesday by winning the majority of delegates as of Thursday afternoon.

If moderators at Sunday’s debate need questions to ask, we have them covered. Feel free to share the debate questions you want to hear at @Rewire_News.

Biden’s checkered past on abortion rights 

  • Candidate Biden, how will you reassure voters concerned about your inconsistent voting record on abortion rights?
  • Should voters be concerned about your vote in 1982 to allow states to overturn Roe v. Wade?
  • Please explain your previous support of the Hyde Amendment. Why should voters trust you when it comes to abortion rights and access?

Abortion rights and the federal judiciary 

  • What is your plan to address the conservative takeover of the federal courts beyond “appointing judges who support Roe v. Wade“?
  • With Republicans breaking long-held Supreme Court norms by refusing to hold hearings for Merrick Garland in 2016, would you break with tradition and seek to expand the number of justices on the Court?
Later abortion care 
  • Do you think unqualified support for abortion rights at any point in pregnancy should be enshrined in the Democratic Party platform?
  • How would you counter Republican attacks on later abortion care, which they frame as an extremist position?
Reproductive justice 
  • When you created your reproductive rights and justice plans, who in the community or which groups and experts did you talk to or meet with? What did you learn from them?
  • Will your administration be just as committed to ensuring access to reproductive health care to transgender, queer, and gender nonconforming people?
  • As president, what would your administration do to address the alarming Black maternal mortality rates across the country?
Protecting Roe
  • Would you support ending the U.S. Senate filibuster to pass legislation that would codify Roe protections into federal law?
  • Abortion rights advocates have said Democrats should move beyond Roe to protect and expand abortion access across the country. How would your administration accomplish this?
State-level restrictions 
  • Seven states in the United States require sex education to include only negative portrayals of homosexuality, and only 17 states require the information in the program to be medically accurate. How will you address sex and HIV education across the country?
  • A number of states have passed so-called sex-selective and race-selective abortion bans based on stereotypes of communities of color and immigrant communities. As president, how would you approach these bans?
  • Republican-controlled state legislatures have passed myriad abortion restrictions over the past decade, including laws designed to shut down abortion clinics. How would your administration counter these policies? Would you support federal pre-clearance of state-level abortion restrictions?