In a speech in Cleveland, Ohio on Thursday, Hillary Clinton issued her strongest defense yet of a woman’s access to reproductive health care including abortions. After calling out former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, and Ohio Gov. John Kasich by name for their campaign promises to ban all abortions with no exceptions for rape, incest or the life of the mother, Clinton continued: “Now extreme views on women, we expect that from some of the terrorist groups, we expect that from people who don’t want to live in the modern world, but it’s a little hard to take coming from Republicans who want to be the president of the United States.”
Telling the cheering crowd, “We are going forward; we are not going back,” Clinton then challenged her Republican opponents who’ve been calling for defunding Planned Parenthood to look in the eye the Americans that depend on their cancer screening and birth control services.
GOP candidates and spokespeople have already begun slamming Clinton for her remarks, and demanding an apology. Minutes after the speech, Jeb Bush wrote on Twitter that Clinton’s “priorities are totally wrong” because she “compares pro-life Americans to terrorists.”
Though Clinton has spoken repeatedly during her campaign in defense of Planned Parenthood and reproductive rights, Thursday’s comments present her strongest language yet on the topic. Clinton has been criticized in the past by reproductive rights advocates for referring to abortion as “tragic” and supporting a ban on some late term procedures.
But in this campaign cycle, the ire of activists has been reserved for Republican candidates, who have staked out positions on abortion that are farther to the right than any major presidential nominee in recent history. When Scott Walker refused to answer in the first GOP debate if he would rather let a woman die than allow her to have an abortion, he took a position more extreme than past party nominees Mitt Romney, John McCain, George W. Bush, Ronald Reagan, and Barry Goldwater. Those candidates and the larger party have traditionally supported allowing abortions in cases of rape, incest, or threats to the life of the mother. The current Republican candidates’ positions are not only out of line with that history, but out of line with public opinion.