For immediate release: October 3, 2016

Contact: Rebecca Griffin, rgriffin@prochoiceamerica.org, 415-500-8123

 

Today, NARAL Pro-Choice California sent a letter to ABC 7, the Pat Brown Institute for Public Affairs and the League of Women Voters of California in advance of the only debate to be held in this year’s US Senate race in California, encouraging the debate moderators to #AskAboutAbortion on Wednesday. The letter is a follow-up to the highly successful, nationwide digital campaign led by NARAL Pro-Choice America during the Democratic primaries to encourage moderators to ask a question about abortion. The campaign reached over 26 million Twitter users.

In the letter, NARAL calls on moderators to ask a question about abortion so that Californians can learn more about how the candidates plan to address this important issue. From the letter:

“Given the abortion access crisis that faces this country, merely checking the ‘pro-choice’ box is no longer sufficient. The Senate needs a champion with specific plans to ensure women have access to critical health care.”

“Few issues are at once more personal and more consequential to Americans as when, whether, and with whom they choose to raise a family. This issue is too important to leave unaddressed on Wednesday. We hope you’ll allow the candidates to talk about their differing plans to defend and expand our constitutionally protected right to access abortion.”

The full text of the letter is below:

Dear ABC 7, Pat Brown Institute for Public Affairs and League of Women Voters of California:

As you prepare for the upcoming California Senate debate, you will no doubt be weighing which issues deserve the attention of the candidates and the voters who tune in to watch. Since your task is to provide, with limited time, a setting for the candidates to debate their different approaches to the most critical issues in our lives, we implore you to press the candidates on their plans to address the crisis in abortion access in our country.

While many topics deserve the candidates’ consideration—from job creation to immigration to national security—safe and reliable access to abortion is fundamental to all Americans’ ability to determine our own destinies. One in three women in this country will have an abortion by the time they reach age 45, and the majority are mothers who are trying to take care of the families they already have. Despite the fact that seven in 10 Americans support legal abortion, many politicians are actively trying and succeeding in blocking access to what is, at its core, a constitutionally protected right. Consider the following facts, which paint a picture of dwindling access to abortion across the country:

  • 261 anti-choice laws have passed through state legislatures since 2010
  • 27 states have anti-choice legislatures where both chambers are anti-choice
  • 87% of counties in this country have no abortion provider at all; 45% of California counties have no abortion clinic

Given the abortion access crisis that faces this country, merely checking the “pro-choice” box is no longer sufficient. The Senate needs a champion with specific plans to ensure women have access to critical health care. This debate marks the only time these two candidates will meet to make their case to Californians. Voters deserve a fulsome debate on how to expand access to abortion so they can decide for themselves which candidate will do right by their family.

Debate moderators have often posed questions on abortion that  focus on rare outlier cases instead of on the broader issues of access to this common medical procedure. We hope that your questions capture the true needs of women and the lived experiences surrounding those who seek abortion access.

Below are the questions we propose you ask:

  1. Among all of the barriers to accessing abortion care for American women, financial burdens rank highest. This is because the Hyde Amendment prevents low-income women from using public health insurance to access this medical service, and clinic closure laws have been so detrimental that accessing abortion care often requires considerable financial strain,  taking time off work, finding childcare, and traveling long distances. As a senator, how would you ensure that the constitutional right to access abortion is guaranteed to all Americans, regardless of their financial situation?
  2. In Texas, where women’s health clinics have closed because of laws that put restrictions on their operations, maternal mortality rates have doubled. As a senator, what steps would you take to reverse maternal mortality in this country?

Few issues are at once more personal and more consequential to Americans as when, whether, and with whom they choose to raise a family. This issue is too important to leave unaddressed on Wednesday. We hope you’ll allow the candidates to talk about their differing plans to defend and expand our constitutionally protected right to access abortion.

Sincerely,

Amy Everitt

State Director

NARAL Pro-Choice California

 

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