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2020 candidates convened to talk about reproductive health care and abortion rights with over 750 PPAF members

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Today, the Planned Parenthood Action Fund (PPAF) hosted We Decide: 2020 Election Membership Forum in Columbia, S.C., where 2020 presidential candidates offered their visions for greater abortion access and expanding reproductive health care across the country. Twenty candidates attended the event, answering questions from PPAF members about the current attacks on access to reproductive health care—including safe, legal abortion. Candidates also explained how they plan to protect and expand these rights. NowThis live streamed the event for voters across the country.

Candidates in attendance were: Sen. Michael Bennet, Former VP Joe Biden, Sen. Cory Booker, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Sec. Julián Castro, Mayor Bill de Blasio, Rep. John Delaney, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, Sen. Kamala Harris, Gov. John Hickenlooper, Gov. Jay Inslee, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Rep. Seth Moulton, Rep. Beto O'Rourke, Rep. Tim Ryan, Sen. Bernie Sanders, Rep. Eric Swalwell, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Ms. Marianne Williamson, and Mr. Andrew Yang.

Statement from Dr. Leana Wen, President of Planned Parenthood Action Fund:

This is a moment when our rights and freedoms are under attack — we must fight back. Last November, the American people elected a historic number of pro-reproductive health champions to protect their health and rights in Congress. Now, we will work together to elect a president who shares our values: that we need more health care, not less, and that all people should be able to make decisions about their health and their bodies without political interference. On behalf of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, I thank all the candidates who joined our members today, and who reaffirmed that reproductive health care is health care, and health care is a fundamental right for all people.

Statement from Kelley Robinson, Executive Director of Planned Parenthood Action Fund:

It’s clear that the candidates on stage today are listening to the people who have raised their voices across the country to say now is the time to protect and expand access to reproductive health care, including safe, legal abortion, birth control, cancer screenings, and STI testing and treatment. We held this forum so Planned Parenthood Action Fund members could hear directly from candidates about their plans to protect people’s health and rights. Today was an incredible moment redefining the importance of reproductive health care — not just as we see unprecedented restrictions and attacks, but for years to come.

Statement from Jenny Black, CEO of Planned Parenthood Votes! South Atlantic

Planned Parenthood Votes! South Atlantic is motivated by the energy that the 2020 presidential candidates demonstrated today and by their commitment to protecting and expanding access to reproductive rights and health care. At Planned Parenthood South Atlantic in South Carolina, we know any restriction on reproductive health care will have the greatest impact on those who can’t afford it. We are so glad to hear the candidates’ commitments to Planned Parenthood patients,  and that they won’t back down from defending patients’ health, lives, and rights.

PPAF members asked the candidates to think critically about their role in the movement to protect reproductive rights and health across the country. All candidates were asked, "How are you going to expand access to sexual and reproductive health care, including abortion care, to ensure that people like me have access to care no matter what?"

The candidates expressed support for repealing the Hyde Amendment, for codifying Roe v. Wade into federal law, and for going on the offensive to expand access to reproductive health care in the U.S.

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand: “For poor women, for Black women, for marginalized women, I think this attack [on safe, legal abortion] undermines their humanity and … their understanding that they have basic human rights.”

Senator Kamala Harris: “We are not treating people equally in our health care system writ large if they don’t have money … Every day in America, women who do not have financial means are treated like second class citizens, and that is intolerable.”

Former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper: “We need to push back and make sure that information is clear and based on science … If I'm president, you're going to see a magnificent expansion of Title X funds to make sure that all women get access to their reproductive rights.”

Senator Elizabeth Warren: “In a democracy, the laws should reflect the values of the people. So I say it is time to go on offense with Roe v. Wade. It’s not enough to say we’re going to rely on the courts. We need to pass a federal law to make Roe v. Wade the rule of the law all across this country.”

Mayor Pete Buttigieg: "What you can count on is that when I am appointing justices and judges, I will appoint justice and judges who understand that freedom includes access to reproductive health and reproductive rights for women in this country."

Mayor Bill de Blasio: “Can we just be clear that if you’re a Democrat, you’re against the Hyde Amendment, period? … No more Hyde Amendment, it’s over, that’s a part of our history. We’re going to protect women’s right to choose, we’re going to make sure there’s no economic discrimination against women.”

Vice President Joe Biden: “First thing I would do as your president, I would immediately extend health care to everyone … The bottom line is poor women would have complete coverage … I would codify Roe v. Wade as defined by Casey. It should be the law.”

Washington State Governor Jay Inslee: “I fundamentally believe that reproductive health care is health care, full stop, period … When we get rid of the Hyde amendment, and we will get rid of the Hyde amendment … these funds will go fundamentally to exercise a woman’s right of freedom. That’s what this is, it is the right to be free from government intrusion in the most intimate part of a person’s life.”

Ms. Marianne Williamson: “This entire conversation appears to be about a woman’s reproductive freedom or it appears to be about a woman’s health. Let’s not kid ourselves, this is not just about reproductive freedom, it’s not just about health. It’s about women and power.”  

Former Congressman John Delaney: “The Hyde amendment … effectively prevents so many women in this country from actually getting the care that they need … I believe strongly that health care is a basic human right and that everyone should have access to health care.”

Secretary Julián Castro: "I’ve had a front row seat to this in Texas … There's a full court assault on a woman's right to get an abortion, and it means that you need a strong partner in Washington to do everything that we can to protect that right … because it’s not just about reproductive health, it’s about reproductive justice."

Former Congressman Beto O’Rourke: “In 2021, in our administration, we’re going to live according to our values and our interests, to our foundational principle that we are all created equal, and to the 1973 decision Roe v. Wade, which is the settled law of the land as far as I’m concerned, for everyone.”  

Senator Bernie Sanders: “I think right now, given the attacks that we're seeing in recent years, on Planned Parenthood in particular, and on abortion rights in general, I think what we can do and must do is find candidates in every state in this country and every congressional district in this country who do support absolutely a woman's right to control her own body.”

Mr. Andrew Yang: “This is a decision that women make of their own accord and it’s up to you. Certainly no one should feel like they’re forced to have a child because of restrictions on abortion or reproductive care … I don’t think male legislators should have anything to do with making decisions about women’s reproductive rights.”

Congressman Eric Swalwell: “I trust the American people who are telling us in every state that 77% of Americans support Roe … The majority of Americans are with you and your right to make this decision, so what we must do is repeal the discriminatory Hyde amendment.”

Senator Cory Booker: “A lot of these assaults on reproductive care are really assaults on low-income women and women in marginalized communities … This is not a woman’s issue. Don’t tell me just because you have a wife or a mother or daughter that this is how you relate to this. You have a body, and you know that people should not be in control of your body.”

Senator Amy Klobuchar: "The first thing we need to do is to reverse the Hyde Amendment … The second thing we need to do … is to repeal the gag rule and make sure we fund Planned Parenthood … The third thing would be to codify Roe v. Wade."

Congressman Tim Ryan: “A woman should be able to decide the size of her family … and there are so many working class women in so many places across the United States that don’t have access … We’ve got to protect the right to choose, protect a woman’s right.”

Congressman Seth Moulton: “Women’s health care should be a right that we promote. Women’s rights should be something that we promote. Women’s rights should be something that we invest in … We’ve got to repeal the Hyde Amendment, [which is] about restricting access to women’s health care for women who don’t have privilege, who can’t go to another state, who can’t pay.”

Senator Michael Bennet: “We need to overturn the Hyde amendment, clearly … If you’re rural, if you’re poor, if you’re a person of color, if you’re a woman, they’re coming after you and we have to fight back against that.”  

You can watch the entire forum HERE.

Abortion access is a “key issue for the 2020 elections.” 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 new CNN poll of likely Iowa Democratic caucus participants showed that support for abortion rights is the top issue for voters, with 8 in 10 voters calling it a “must have,” including 85% of women.

We Decide took place concurrently with the South Carolina Democratic Convention, so candidates could focus on key voters and PPAF members in the state while highlighting abortion access as one of the most important issues as we head into the 2020 presidential debates.


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.