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Elections & Politics

What Are the 2008 Presidential Candidates Saying About Women's Health Issues?

Contact: Planned Parenthood Action Fund Media Office, 212-261-4433

For Immediate Release: 07.21.08

The following are statements by the 2008 presidential candidates on issues related to reproductive rights and women's health, compiled by Planned Parenthood Action Fund.  Some statements are excerpts from longer statements.

Democrats

Republicans

DEMOCRATS

Senator Hillary Clinton (D – New York):

"For 6 and a half years, the President has played politics with women's health. He's chipped away at reproductive rights and he's worked to turn Washington DC into an evidence-free zone, where facts are subordinate to ideology and opinion. And of course we know who's paying the price for these policies: women around the world suffering because they no longer have access to reproductive care, women right here at home who want to plan their families and who want to prevent unintended pregnancies, but no longer have access to contraception, children sitting in classrooms receiving false, misleading, incomplete information that will not prevent them from pregnancy and STDs. This is not just an affront to women's rights, it is an affront to human rights, to our most fundamental values as a nation. And I want you to know that when I am President, I will devote my very first days in office to reversing these ideological, anti-science, anti-prevention policies that this administration has put into place." 
(Excerpt of speech to Planned Parenthood Public Affairs Retreat and Roundtable, 7.17.2007)

"When I am president, I will appoint judges to our courts who understand the role of precedent, that it actually does mean something, and also the importance of Roe v. Wade – that it truly is the touchstone of reproductive freedom and the embodiment of our most fundamental rights that no one, no judge, no governor, no senator, no president has the right to take away." 
(Excerpt of speech to Planned Parenthood Public Affairs Retreat and Roundtable, 7.17.2007)
 
"If HIV-AIDS were the leading cause of death of white women between the ages of 25 and 34, there would be an outraged outcry in this country.  ...I'm working to get Medicaid to cover treatment. I'm working to raise the budget for Ryan White, which the Bush administration has kept flat, disgracefully so, because there are a lot of women, particularly, who are becoming infected in poor rural areas as well as under-served urban areas in states where, frankly, their state governments won't give them medical care."  
(In response to question during Democratic presidential debate on PBS about how to stop the disproportionate spread of HIV among young African Americans in the U.S., 6.28.2007)
 
"Yes. Yes.  And that is what I have tried to both talk about and reach out about over the last many years, going back, really, at least 15 years, in talking about abortion being safe, legal, and rare. And, by rare, I mean rare. And it's been a challenge, because the pro-life and the pro- choice communities have not really been willing to find much common ground. And I think that is a great failing on all of our parts, because, for me... there are many opportunities to assist young people to make responsible decisions."  
(In response to question from Rev. Joel C. Hunter: "Could you see yourself, with millions of voters in a pro-life camp, creating a common ground, with the goal ultimately in mind of reducing the decisions for abortion to zero?" Sojourners Presidential Forum on Faith, Values, and Poverty, CNN, 6.4.2007)

Senator Barack Obama (D – Illinois):

"I would not appoint somebody who doesn't believe in the right to privacy. But you're right, Wolf, I taught constitutional law for 10 years, and when you look at what makes a great Supreme Court justice, it's not just the particular issue and how they rule, but it's their conception of the court. And part of the role of the court is that it is going to protect people who may be vulnerable in the political process, the outsider, the minority, those who are vulnerable, those who don't have a lot of clout." 
(Democratic debate, CNN, 11.15.2007)
 
"One area where I think we should have significant agreement is on the idea of reducing unwanted pregnancies because if we can reduce unwanted pregnancies, then it's much less likely that people resort to abortion. The way to do that is to encourage young people and older people, people of child-bearing years, to act responsibly. ...I think we've got to have that kind of comprehensive view that says family planning and education for our young people and so forth – to prevent teen pregnancies, to prevent the kinds of situations that lead to women having to struggle with these difficult decisions and we should be supportive of those efforts. That's an area where there should be some agreement."
(Excerpt of response to question at Iowa forum asking why there's some much outrage around an athlete engaged in dog fighting, while we have "34 years and counting where thousands of innocent, sweet babies are being killed every day through what we call abortion, yet that voice has seemingly died out." Jeff Zeleny, The Caucus: The New York Times Politics Blog, 10.5.2007)

"This election is not just about playing defense, it's also about playing offense. It's not just about defending what is, it's about creating what might be in this country, and that's what we've got to work together on. There will always be people, many of good will, who do not share my view on the issue of choice. On this fundamental issue, I will not yield, and Planned Parenthood will not yield, but that doesn't mean that we can't find common ground because we know that what's at stake is more than whether or not a woman choose an abortion. Choice is about how we lead our lives. It's about our families and our communities; it's about our daughters and whether they're going to have the same opportunities as our sons." 
(Excerpt of speech to Planned Parenthood Public Affairs Retreat and Roundtable, 7.17.2007)

REPUBLICANS

Senator John McCain (R – Arizona):

"Wisdom suggests that we should be willing to give an unborn child the same chance that our parents gave us, but it takes courage in this political climate to insist on the protection of unborn children who can't vote, have no choice and can't reward you with support and donations.  Wisdom suggests that when activist federal judges impose their social views on the citizens of every state, the result is going to distort our politics in terrible ways, but it takes courage to insist that the courts have to return to their proper role. I will appoint strict constructionist judges that won't legislate from the bench." 
(Excerpts from speech to Family Research Council Values Voters Summit, 10.19.2007)
  
"Whether I support government funding for them or not, I don't know." 
(Response to reporters questions about whether he supports public funding for contraception in Africa to prevent the spread of AIDS, as reported by Michael D. Shear, washingtonpost,com, 3.16.2007)

"I do not support Roe versus Wade. It should be overturned." 
(Jim Davenport, Associated Press, 2.18.2007)

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Planned Parenthood Action Fund is an independent, nonpartisan, not-for-profit membership organization formed as the advocacy and political arm of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. The Action Fund engages in educational and electoral activity, including voter education, grassroots organizing, and legislative advocacy.