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Where top 2020 Democrats stand on abortion policy

Senators Kirsten Gillibrand, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders
Photo: John Amis/Mandel Ngan/Stephen Maturen/AFP/Getty Images

Democratic presidential candidates are using a flurry of restrictive new abortion laws to highlight their push for better access to reproductive health care, as red states take aim at the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision. More candidates laid out policy details at a Planned Parenthood forum on Saturday.

The big picture: Democrats started consistently supporting abortion rights after 1988, per Gallup. Now, they're being called upon to propose specific policy plans about how they would tackle what many are framing as the most severe attacks on women’s reproductive rights in decades.

Candidates with policy plans for abortion:

  • Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) has made protecting abortion rights a central component of her platform. She wants to codify Roe v. Wade, repeal the Hyde Amendment, and "only appoint judges and justices that believe in Roe v. Wade."
  • Former Vice President Joe Biden would support a congressional decision to codify abortion rights if it became necessary and has flipped on his previous support for the Hyde Amendment. He would also repeal the Trump administration's gag rule on Title X.
  • Sen. Elizabeth Warren's (D-Mass.) plan to protect abortion rights:
    • She wants to codify Roe v. Wade and intends to pass the Women's Health Protection Act to prevent states from limiting or blocking access to abortions.
    • She plans to repeal the Hyde Amendment and the Trump administration's gag rule on Title X, which prevents providers from informing women how to access abortion and from performing the procedure.
  • Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) says he will codify the Roe v. Wade decision into law. Booker also said men are responsible to "speak out and to take action..." in a GQ magazine op-ed.
  • Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.): "When we pass Medicare for All, we will be guaranteeing a woman’s right to control her own body by covering comprehensive reproductive care, including abortion." Sanders intends to fully fund Planned Parenthood and Title IX if elected.
  • Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) announced she would require any state that wishes to implement abortion restrictions to pre-clear the laws with the Department of Justice.
  • Mayor Pete Buttigieg: He pledged at the Planned Parenthood Action Fund 2020 Election Membership Forum to appoint judges who "understand that freedom includes access to reproductive health and reproductive rights for women in this country." He is also considering codifying the Roe v. Wade decision, per AP.
  • Washington Gov. Jay Inslee also says the Roe v. Wade decision should be codified into law. He believes Medicaid enrollees should have abortion access at the federal level, as stated at the Planned Parenthood forum. He supports an injunction against Trump's Title X gag rule.
  • New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio: He pledged at the Planned Parenthood forum to codify Roe v. Wade into federal law. "We have to make clear, not only get rid of the Hyde Amendment, but move to universal health care so that you know there's not an economic barrier to choice," he said.
  • Former HUD Secretary Julián Castro tweeted: "It’s been almost 50 years since Roe v. Wade. We should be expanding reproductive services, not criminalizing them. It’s long past time to repeal the Hyde Amendment and make abortion care available to all women—not just those who can afford it."

Candidates who oppose abortion bans, but have no policies:

  • Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) said: "The Georgia and Alabama abortion bans are wrong. They are dangerous. They are unconstitutional. And they are out of step with the majority of Americans." She said he will only appoint judges who support Roe v. Wade at the Planned Parenthood forum. Klobuchar wants to codify Roe v. Wade and repeal Trump's gag rules on abortion.
  • Montana Gov. Steve Bullock tweeted: "This is irresponsible, dangerous and would make it even more difficult for women to access basic healthcare. As governor, I’ve stopped every attack on a woman’s right to make her own healthcare decisions, and that’s exactly what I’ll do as president."
  • Rep. John Delaney (D-Md.) tweeted that banning abortions doesn't stop them, it stops women from having safe abortions. He does not support the Hyde Amendment.
  • Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper tweeted: "#HB314 will cost Alabama women their lives, and threatens the reproductive rights of women across the country. We must fight back, and our next president must act to enshrine Roe v. Wade into law."
  • Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) tweeted: "The #AlabamaAbortionBIll is extremely dangerous. It completely takes away the freedom of women to choose whether or not to have an abortion--even if a woman/girl is a victim of rape or incest. This law must be rejected."
  • Former Rep. Beto O'Rourke said abortion bans are "a radical attack on women." He said third-term abortions are "about women making decisions about their own body."
  • Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.) doesn't have a fleshed out policy, but tweeted he would only appoint judges who support Roe v. Wade. He plans to repeal Trump's gag rules, the Hyde Amendment and appoint pro-abortion judges at a Planned Parenthood forum.
  • Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) tweeted: "Under the #AlabamaAbortionBan, doctors could spend more time in prison for providing abortions to women who were raped than the actual rapists. What is wrong with these people?"
  • Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) asked his Twitter followers to vote for the Yellowhammer Fund, an organization working to protect abortion rights. He said he will only appoint judges who support Roe v. Wade at the Planned Parenthood forum.
  • Andrew Yang tweeted: "I personally don’t think male legislators should be weighing in on women’s reproductive rights and freedoms. It should be up to women. I’m happy to let women decide for themselves." Yang says his proposal for Universal Basic Income will help women overcome some of the financial barriers when getting an abortions.
  • Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Col.) said: He believes his Medicare X plan will help with access to abortions and reproductive services at a Planned Parenthood forum.

The intrigue: Castro, Warren, and Biden made a point to include transgender people in their reproductive health care spiels at the Planned Parenthood forum in June.

Go deeper: Which states have passed abortion restriction laws