Moderators Ignore The Anti-Choice Elephant In The Room During Democratic Debate

CREDIT: AP Photo, Wilfredo Lee

Democratic presidential candidates, Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt, shake hands before the start of the Univision, Washington Post Democratic presidential debate in Miami, Fla.

As presidential debates pile up, abortion rights advocates find themselves asking the same question after each event: Why is no one asking about abortion? But candidates’ silence on abortion was more deafening than usual at Wednesday night’s Democratic debate in Florida — where a controversial bill against abortion access passed through Congress earlier in the day.

The Florida bill is nearly identical to the Texas law currently in front of the Supreme Court, using the guise of ‘supporting women’s health’ to significantly cut women’s access to abortion, contraception, and STI prevention and treatment services across the state. The Texas bill has already lead to thousands of unplanned pregnancies and 100,000 self-induced abortions done by women unable to access a clinic. Latina women have been disproportionately affected by Texas’ bill — and with an equally large Latina population in Florida, the Sunshine State’s new bill could produce similarly grim results.

The Wednesday debate, co-hosted by Univision, focused heavily on immigration policy, specifically addressing the large population of Latino voters in Florida. But no moderater or candidate mentioned the impact Florida’s proposed law could have on this population.

Both candidates, however, were asked about who would fill the empty Supreme Court seat, which led to former Secretary of State Hilary Clinton’s brief — and only — mention of abortion rights. “Clearly, I would look for people who believe that Roe v. Wade is settled law and that Citizens United needs to be overturned as quickly as possible,” she said. And that was it.

Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) have shared similar pro-choice stances on abortion policy throughout the campaign, while all GOP candidates are overwhelmingly opposed to abortion — despite Donald Trump’s flip-flopping views on Planned Parenthood.