#AskAboutAbortion Demands Democratic Presidential Candidates Finally Discuss Reproductive Rights

If you've been following the Democratic debates, you may have noticed one subject has been conspicuously absent — but even if you haven't, the #AskAboutAbortion hashtag is happy to point it out. Abortion is one of the most pressing political issues of the moment, especially in light of mass shootings directed at clinics and increasingly widespread attempts to defund Planned Parenthood, all on top of growing evidence that such efforts hurt women in exactly the ways you would expect. Despite their importance, however, reproductive rights have yet to be addressed during any of the five Democratic party presidential debates so far.

The oversight certainly hasn't gone unnoticed. As a way to draw attention to the missing topic before the sixth debate on Feb. 11, pro-choice activists and nonprofits have created the Twitter hashtag #AskAboutAbortion, which demands that tonight's debate include the topic. As some users have pointed out, abortion's absence during Democratic party debates has been made even more glaring by its frequent presence on the Republican side. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the general stance among Republican candidates is staunchly pro-life, and some activists fear that the lack of a pro-choice narrative on the Democratic side allows conservative views to dominate.

#AskAboutAbortion has been led by pro-choice group NARAL, which called on voters to use the hashtag in a post published on Medium. "We deserve a response to the horrifying trend of anti-choice violence our country has been experiencing... These questions surround one central theme: They would all allow us to see how the candidates plan to empower women to make decisions for their lives and families," NARAL wrote.

Democratic candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have both publicly expressed pro-choice positions in the past, but NARAL points out that they haven't had the chance to debate concrete plans for upholding reproductive rights.

"What’s important now is a presidential candidate’s willingness... to demonstrate that he or she will be champion of reproductive freedom and will take bold action to make sure legal abortion is available and accessible for all," the organization wrote on Medium.

Even those who aren't pro-choice have spoken up about addressing the topic.

The conclusion is clear: No matter your political leanings, it's impossible for voters to make an informed decision without public discussion of candidates' plans for reproductive rights. With predictions that the upcoming Democratic debate could be the most watched so far, it's more important than ever to address the topic openly. After all, if we can't talk about abortion during a debate with all-female moderators, when are we going to?