Doug Jones, the Democratic candidate running against Republican Roy Moore in Alabama’s special election for U.S. Senate, spoke forcefully against restrictions on reproductive health care in a Wednesday interview on MSNBC.
Answering a question from host Chuck Todd on MTP Daily about whether limits to abortion access should exist, Jones said he is “a firm believer that a woman should have the freedom to choose what happens to her own body” and promised to “make sure that that continues to happen.”
“I want to make sure that as we go forward, people have access to contraception, they have access to the abortion that they might need, if that’s what they choose to do,” Jones said. “I think that’s going to be an issue we can work with and talk about on both sides of the aisle.”
When Todd asked Jones if he would favor restrictions on abortion, such as an unconstitutional 20-week ban—a bill scheduled to be considered in the U.S. House of Representatives—the Alabama Democrat said he had long opposed such efforts to curtail abortion rights. Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser told Rewire on Tuesday that the anti-choice group intended to use the proposed 20-week ban, which is based on the medically unsupported claim that a fetus feels pain at that point in a pregnancy, to target vulnerable Senate Democrats up for reelection in 2018.
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“No, I’m not in favor of anything that is going to infringe on a woman’s right and her freedom to choose,” Jones told Todd. “That’s just the position that I’ve had for many years. It’s the position I continue to have.”
Todd suggested in the interview that abortion is an issue that has “tripped up” many candidates in the South. But Cindi Branham, director of political outreach at Alabama Reproductive Rights Advocates, told Rewire on Thursday that Jones’ positions on issues like contraception are something “many Alabama voters who had reservations about that in the past can get behind at this point.”
Alabama voters are now “faced with curtailing people’s ability to have access to even birth control,” she added—an issue only underscored by the positions of Republican candidate Roy Moore.
Moore has reportedly spoken out against the Affordable Care Act’s popular birth control benefit. He is an advocate for radical “personhood” legislation, which would define life as beginning at conception and could outlaw some forms of contraception.
Jones’ campaign website calls health insurance that does not “cover maternity care, birth control or other care for women” a “sham.”
Branham said access to reproductive health care in Alabama is already limited. She noted that the state doesn’t mandate comprehensive sexual education—which can lead to misinformation about reproductive health—and that anti-choice supporters “make it difficult for women and men” to get the care they need. Branham pointed to the state’s GOP-backed mandatory waiting period, which forces those seeking abortion care to wait 48 hours after counseling, as an example.
Branham, who disclosed that she was active in Democratic politics, said she thought Moore’s stances could turn some Republicans or independents into crossover voters.
The Jones and Moore campaigns did not answer Rewire’s requests for comment by the time of publication.