Martina Moyski reports for ChurchMilitant.com — Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has officially unveiled a comprehensive abortion plan he promises to implement should he be elected president.
Sanders pledges that as president, he would “use executive authority to undo all the damage Trump has done to women’s reproductive freedom.” For the self-proclaimed Democratic Socialist, this includes “undoing the Trump administration’s rule which allows providers to refuse care to and discriminate against their patients seeking reproductive health care” and “reversing the Trump Administration’s domestic gag rule” — shorthand for regulations that prohibit referrals for abortion.
Released March 7, Sanders’ sweeping “Reproductive Health Care and Justice for All” plan includes repealing the Hyde Amendment, thereby allowing direct funding of elective abortions with tax dollars; making contraception free and available over-the-counter; and expanding “funding for Planned Parenthood, Title X and other initiatives” that offer and promote abortions.
According to the web page detailing the plan, “Bernie believes abortion is a constitutional right, period,” and when he is in the White House, he “will fight back against the Republican assault on abortion rights across the country and defend a woman’s right to control her own body here at home and around the world.”
Sanders also seeks to protect abortion access by codifying Roe v. Wade into a legislative statute and requiring “all judicial nominees to support Roe v. Wade as settled law.”
The plan also addresses what Sanders sees as “racial disparities in reproductive health care,” pointing out “black women are 3.5 times more likely to die in childbirth than white women, and those numbers are even higher in the most at-risk zip codes.”
In a section called “Reproductive Justice in Communities of Color & the Black Maternal Mortality Crisis,” Sanders itemizes scores of ways he plans to lower those statistics, including those that guarantee “reproductive justice” and “end the black maternal mortality crisis”:
- Increased access to and funding for reproductive services and facilities in communities of color
- Working with women of color-led community organizations to develop and coordinate policy
- Educating health care providers on providing culturally competent care
- Banning providers from discriminating against patients, including discrimination based on race, color, gender and pregnancy, and allowing courts to award damages to patients if this is violated.
Sanders also pledges to double funding for the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) Program, which supports home visiting services from nurses, mental health professionals, social workers and other support professionals for families with young children who live in low-income and at-risk communities.
He also promises to expand the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program for pregnant mothers, infants and children, raising the eligibility to age 6 and allowing WIC certification to apply for the first two years of a child’s life.
The day his plan was unveiled, Sanders tweeted: “There has been no time in the history of this country when women, especially black women, have had the reproductive freedom and justice that they deserve,” Sanders said. “In my administration, that will finally change.”
The Vermont senator, according to the plan, “understands that stress kills, and women of color experience higher levels of toxic stress than white women.” To remedy the inequity, Sanders “will address the social determinants of health and enact plans to decrease toxic stressors in communities of color that contribute, in part, to inequitable maternal and infant mortality.”
Sanders has also vowed to restore foreign aid to abortion organizations as well as the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).
Sanders’ History on Policy
“In 1972, before the Roe v. Wade ruling,” Sanders’ web page points out, he “criticized male politicians who ‘think that they have the right to tell a woman what she can or cannot do with her body,'” touting that the socialist candidate “has never wavered on the issue of reproductive freedom, and, as president, he will protect and expand reproductive rights.”
It has been noted that Sanders has begun using his long history of support for abortion to attack Biden, who throughout his career has supported some limited restrictions on abortion and on government funding for it.
Sanders has boasted about his decades-long consistent pro-abortion stance at various rallies. “I am proud to tell you that I have a 100% pro-choice voting record throughout my entire life,” he said, adding, “I believed then, and I believe now, that it is women who have a right to control their own bodies, not the government.”
Critics have noted that Sanders’ reproductive health care plan makes no mention of the babies being ripped from their mothers’ wombs during abortions.
Also built into Sanders’ plan is “a comprehensive, progressive agenda to end racial disparities.” Details of this agenda include raising the minimum wage to “at least $15 per hour, which will give a raise to 38% of black workers,” and canceling “all past-due medical debt for the nearly one-third of all black Americans aged 18–64.”
His plan also reiterated his intention to “cancel all student debt, a majority of which is held by black women.”
“Environmental justice for frontline and fenceline communities of color through the Green New Deal” is also guaranteed, including “a $40 billion ‘Climate Justice Resiliency Fund’ … to prepare for and recover from climate impacts,” he said.