Road to 2020: Your Guide to the Candidates’ Views on Abortion

January 22, 2020 saw the celebration of the 47th anniversary of the landmark abortion decision Roe v. Wade. The day was underscored by tension from both sides of the issue. This comes as no suprise as abortion becomes an important and contensious issue for 2020 presidential candidates. But, with 14 candidates running (11 Democrats, 3 Republican) it can be difficult to get the full scope of their values. With primaries quickly approaching, this guide will hopefully help you have a better understanding of the candidates’ views on abortion, on both sides of the aisle. 

1. Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO) 

Bennet believes that the decision to have an abortion should be up to a woman. Bennet has been actively involved in pro-choice legislation and advocacy, supporting bills that would keep federal funding in family planning centers and that would classify contraception as preventative care. In 2017, he even co-sponsored the Women’s Health Protection Act which aimed to “block laws that impose unnecessary or burdensome requirements on physicians and clinics for the main purpose of preventing access to reproductive health services.” 

2. Vice President Joe Biden (D-NA) 

Biden tends to be more moderate in his views on abortion. He supports abortion rights, but, as his past voting history will tell, he believes that states should be allowed to regulate abortions. His opinions, however, have varied over the years. In the 1980s, he supported a constitutional amendment that would have let states reverse the Roe decision. On the flip side, in 2019, he spoke out about his opposition to the Hyde Amendment after decades of support. He also has been quoted recently as saying that “Roe v. Wade is settled law and should not be overturned.”

3. Mayor Michael Bloomberg (D-NA)

Bloomberg is a staunch supporter of abortion rights. In the past, he has stated that reproductive freedom is “a fundamental human right, and we can never take it for granted.” He has even criticized pro-choice politicans who support pro-life politicans. In 2005, Bloomberg, then a Republican, also opposed the confirmation of John Roberts as Chief Justice of the United States who he believed would not be committed to upholding Roe v. Wade. 

4. Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D-IN)

Buttigieg has not only expressed his support for a women’s right to an abortion, but has also offered up a plan for what he would do in his presidency. The plan, although not revolutionary in comparison to the other candidates, still stands as a thorough agenda and an attempt to win over female voters. Buttigieg plans to repeal the Hyde Amendment, to federally codify the right to abortion if Roe v. Wade is overturned, and to repeal national and global gag rules. 

5. Representative Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI)

According to Gabbard’s webiste, she is “ wholly committed to abortion remaining safe, legal and rare.” She opposes the Hyde Amendment and attempts to defund Planned Parenthood through Title X. Gabbard does, however, believe there should be some restrictions in place. Therefore, she is in support of codifying Roe v. Wade while “making sure that, during the third trimester, abortion is not an option unless the life or severe health consequences of a woman are at risk."

6. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)

Klobuchar is running in support of abortion with a commitment to protect the health and lives of women. Her website details her opposition to the recent state abortion bans: “The recent bans in states are dangerous, they are unconstitutional, and they are out of step with the majority of Americans.” In 2019, Klobuchar also voted against two of President Trump’s judicial nominees Wendy Vitter and Sarah Pitlyk, who are both pro-life. In her first 100 days, Klobuchar vows to end the Title X gag rule and ensure funding to Planned Parenthood. However, during a Fox News town hall, Sen. Amy Klobuchar did say "there are limits there in the third trimester that are very important, except for the health of the woman.”

Related: Your Guide to Understanding the Current State of Abortion Rights 

7. Governor Deval Patrick (D-NA)

Deval’s pro-choice work is extensive. As governor of Massachusetts, he signed a law to ensure that people could access abortion clinics without having to fear anti-abortion protesters. The law allowed police to remove protesters if they were blocking the clinic and keep them at least 25 feet away for eight hours. During the 1990s, Deval also served on the board of directors of the Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts. 

8. Senator Bernie Sanders (D-VT)

Sanders has been very clear about his support of a woman's right to choose. Like Sen. Klobuchar, Sanders voted against against Trump’s judical nominee and anti-abortion advocate Wendy Vitter in 2019. He plans to repeal the Hyde Amendment, fully fund Planned Parenthood, Title X, and other initiatives that protect women’s health and the avaiblity of safe and legal abortion. Sanders also vows to “Oppose all efforts to undermine or overturn Roe v. Wade, and appoint federal judges who will uphold women’s most fundamental rights.”

9. Tom Steyer (D-NA)

At this point in the race, abortion does not appear to be one of Steyer’s main priorities; however, he is still in favor of abortion. He opposes cuts to sexual and reproductive health care and has expressed his support for repealing the Helm Amendment, which restricts American aid for such services abroad. Steyer has also called the Title X gag rule “another Trump policy aimed at mollifying his base while punishing low-income citizens.”

10. President Donald Trump (R-NA)

A key promise Trump has made is to defend life and defund abortion service providers. Over the course of his presidency, he has nominated more than 150 federal judges, many of whom are pro-life and are in favor of either overtunring Roe v. Wade or putting restrictions on it. Trump has also issued a gag rule that bans health care providers funded by Title X to tell a woman where she can recieve an abortion. And, on January 24, Trump became the first president to attend the March for Life rally in D.C., where he also gave a speech. 

11. Joe Walsh (R-NA)

Walsh is outspoken in his opposition to abortion. He supports banning abortion, even when a mother’s life may be at risk. When he was a representative for Illinois’s 8th congressional district, Walsh voted to defund Planned Parenthood. "I'm pro life without exception. Understand though, that when we talk about exceptions, we talk about rape, incest, health of a woman, life of a woman. Life of the woman is not an exception," Walsh said during an interview in 2012. 

12. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)

Warren’s platform on abortion is one of the strongest and most detailed of the candidates. She plans to create federal, statutory rights that parallel the constitutional right in Roe v. Wade; pass federal laws to prevent state laws that limit access to reproductive health care; guarantee reproductive health coverage as part of all health coverage; and ensure equal access and reproductive justice. Warren also criticized Trump’s gag rule and voted against Wendy Vitter.

13. Governor Bill Weld (R-NA)  

Weld has a socially liberal opinion on abortion. In the 90s, Weld fought to remove anit-abortion language from the platform of the Republican Party. Last year, the former Governor of Massachusetts told a crowd in Exeter, New Hampshire that the “government has no business interfering with a woman’s decision to have an abortion.” Weld has called himself “the most pro-choice person you’re ever going to meet.”

14. Andrew Yang (D-NA)

Yang’s stance on abortion stems from an economic and humanistic perspective. He believes that “While denial of abortion rights hurts women economically, access to abortion has generational economic benefits.” Yang plans to support the repeal of the Hyde Amendment and supports the funding of health centers like Planned Parenthood. He says that when dealing with abortion laws, “we need to trust women.” 

However you feel about these candidates, it is important to stay up to date with their values on issues that are important to you. Always seek to be a more informed voter and then exercise your right to vote! Your voice matters.