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Detroit, MI — In response to the deafening silence on reproductive rights issues during the second Democratic debate in Detroit, Michigan, Planned Parenthood Action Fund released the following statement.

Statement from Alexis McGill Johnson, Acting President of Planned Parenthood Action Fund:

Tonight, voters missed an opportunity to hear how Democratic candidates will approach a fundamental issue that impacts their lives. Candidates spent more than 30 minutes debating health care, but it's meaningless if we cannot access it. In nearly three hours of a debate, there was not one question on abortion access or reproductive health care—despite the fact that the Trump administration is actively trying to dismantle our nation’s program for affordable birth control with a gag rule. The ability to access abortion and other reproductive health care is key to our health and our futures, and is under grave threat under the Trump administration. Right here, in Michigan, Planned Parenthood serves 70 percent of all Title X patients, yet the Trump administration’s gag rule would prevent all of those patients from getting the birth control and cancer screenings they need. As the American people make decisions about their 2020 vote, they deserve to hear about the candidates’ visions for how they will protect and expand access to abortion. Planned Parenthood Action Fund calls on the Democratic National Committee and CNN to ensure that efforts to protect abortion access are an essential part of the discussion during the tomorrow night’s debate.

Over the last three years, the Trump-Pence administration has waged an all out assault on sexual and reproductive health care, including trying to dismantle nation's program for affordable birth control, allowing employers to control whether workers have access to birth control, stacking the courts with anti-abortion judges, eliminating protections for survivors of sexual assault, an attempt to eliminate the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program, and endless attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act. 

The Trump administration has released an unethical gag rule on the Title X program—the nation’s program for affordable birth control and reproductive health care that serves four million people each year. The rule would make it illegal for providers to refer their patients for abortion, even if that patient asks for the referral. It would also put in place restrictions meant to block patients from coming to Planned Parenthood health centers for care, even though Planned Parenthood serves 40 percent of all patients in the Title X program. In some states, such as Michigan, Planned Parenthood serves an even greater percentage of the Title X patients. In Detroit, where tonight’s debate took place, Planned Parenthood is the only Title X health center in the entire city.

Abortion access is a “key issue for the 2020 elections” — that’s why twenty 2020 presidential candidates offered their visions for greater abortion access and expanding reproductive health care at Planned Parenthood Action Fund’s We Decide forum. A record-high 77 percent of Americans say they do not want to see Roe overturned, and there is no state in this country where banning abortion is popular.

This matters in early primary states: A recent CNN poll of likely Iowa Democratic caucus participants showed that support for abortion rights is the top issue for voters, with eight in 10 voters calling it a “must have,” including 85 percent of women. 


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, advocacy and electoral activity, including grassroots organizing, legislative advocacy, and voter education.