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Detroit, MI — As the nation faces a crisis in access to abortion and other reproductive health care, voters deserve more than a mere five minutes touching on this critical issue. The Hyde Amendment, which Sen. Kamala Harris brought up, is a harmful policy that blocks access to abortion for women of color, people with low-incomes, and young people. It is just one example of how reproductive rights and health care impacts a person’s economic future and freedom to control their lives. Yet, this critical issue was barely addressed during the second Democratic debate in Detroit, Michigan. 

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

Voters deserve better from these primary debates. Right now, 25 million women in America are one Supreme Court case away from losing the right to access abortion—even though 77 percent of Americans support access to safe, legal abortion. The Trump administration has spent the past three years pushing policy after policy to take away access to birth control, to allow discrimination in health care, to block patients from getting care at Planned Parenthood. This is more than a health care issue. It is a matter of economic justice, racial justice, and reproductive freedom. We cannot talk about equal pay without discussing a woman’s ability to control her own body. It is impossible to address gender equity without a plan to ensure every person can access the health care they need to pursue their fullest dreams. And we’ll never achieve racial justice without dismantling the barriers to care marginalized communities experience day in and day out because of racist and discriminatory policies. Voters need to know what candidates will do to protect their reproductive health care—yet tonight all they got was deafening silence. We’re talking about our health, our rights, our futures. We can, and we must, do better.

Over the last three years, the Trump-Pence administration has tried to dismantle nation's program for affordable birth control, issued a rule to allow employers to decide whether their workers health insurance covers their birth control, has stacked the courts with anti-abortion judges, has worked to eliminate protections for survivors of sexual assault, tried to eliminate the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program, and has time and time again tried 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.