Where The 2020 Candidates Stand On Abortion Policy Is Telling

by Caroline Burke
Julie Bennett/Getty Images News/Getty Images

At this point in the 2020 campaign, there are so many candidates for president that it might be hard to keep track of who believes in what. It's fully understandable to not know every policy stance for the over-two dozen people in the race. But at the same time, the growing trend of states passing anti-abortion legislation means reproductive rights are going to be one of the more significant topics on the campaign trail. Knowing where the 2020 candidates stand on abortion policy will allow you to make an informed decision, come voting day.

Of the candidates who have declared bids for the presidency, at least one politician is actively pro-life: Donald Trump. Of course, just because the majority of the candidates are pro-choice doesn't mean they all have identical policy goals, or beliefs around reproductive rights. For example, only a handful of these candidates have explicitly said they support a woman's right to abortion at any stage of her pregnancy; additionally, only an even smaller fraction of these candidates have offered up actual plans as to how they would address the war on abortion rights, if elected president.

Here's everything you need to know about where each of the presidential candidates stands on a person's right to choose:

Kirsten Gillibrand

In a Medium post on May 8, Kirsten Gillibrand shared her reproductive rights policy platform, which includes four central tenets she's promised to uphold if elected president. These tenets are: access to safe and legal abortions, access to healthcare that prevents unintended pregnancies, the protection of doctors and organizations who provide abortion, and the protection of courts from "being taken over by anti-choice extremists."

Gillibrand wrote in part, "As president, I won’t just continue to defend women’s civil rights from political attacks — I’ll make guaranteeing those rights a priority. Women are half of this country, and they deserve nothing less."

Pete Buttigieg

During his Fox News town hall, Pete Buttigieg set the record straight on where he stands with abortion rights. When asked by host Chris Wallace how he felt about late-term abortion, Buttigieg said, “The dialogue has gotten so caught up in where you draw the line. I trust women to draw the line."

When Wallace continued to press him on the idea of a late-term abortion, specifically, Buttigieg pointed out that late term abortions make up an extremely small percentage of all abortions, adding,

Let’s put ourselves in the shoes of a woman in that situation. If it’s that late in your pregnancy ... it’s [almost to the point] that you’ve been expecting to carry it to term. Families ... then get the most devastating medical news of their lifetime. ... That decision is not going to be made any better, medically or morally, because the government is dictating how that decision should be made.

Buttigieg is right about late term abortions making up an extremely small percentage of abortions performed in America. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 1.3% of abortions in 2015 were performed at or after 21 weeks of pregnancy. What's more, as The Washington Post notes, late term abortions often have to do with danger to the life of the mother, or with a health or fetal anomaly.

Kamala Harris

Following the passage of Alabama's eight-week abortion ban, Kamala Harris raised over $160,000 for abortion groups, by asking her Twitter followers to "join her" in fighting the ban. Additionally, Harris' campaign sent out an email to subscribers, according to Essence, which also asked people to donate to the cause.

The email read in part, “We cannot afford to wring our hands. We need to fight back, raising our voice together to say we won’t be dragged backward and putting our collective power to work.”

Michael Bennet

Michael Bennet is, like his fellow Democratic candidates, pro-choice. According to PBS, he won his Senate seat after running a campaign that aggressively called out his opponent's pro-life beliefs.

Recently, Bennet addressed the Alabama abortion ban while on CNN (as seen in the video above), confirming that he did believe it was "a terrible threat" to Roe v. Wade. Bennet said, "Roe... is settled law." He added, "It just seems to me that we'd be a lot better off...leaving this decision in the hands of women and their families."

Tulsi Gabbard

On her 2020 site, Gabbard boasts a 100% voting record in favor of both Planned Parenthood and NARAL. She supports a women's right to choose, and believes government has "no place infringing on" that right.

Earlier this month, Gabbard visited the office of TMZ to talk about her policies. Gabbard agreed with the description of her as "very strongly pro-choice" and said that she supported any efforts to protest the anti-abortion laws being passed in places like Alabama or Missouri. You can see her interview in full above.

Joe Biden

Throughout Joe Biden's long political career, he's gone back and forth in his opinions on abortion. As The New York Times notes, Biden said in 1973 that he didn't believe women had the "sole right to say what should happen to her body," and then he said in 2012 that the government "doesn't have a right to tell other people that women, they can't control their body."

Most recently, Biden has maintained that Roe is settled law. He believes that "this choice should remain between a woman and her doctor," per the tweet above.

Cory Booker

For GQ on May 17, Cory Booker penned an "open letter to men" on the topic of abortion, arguing that "women should not have to face this fight alone." Booker wrote in part, "I’m still learning how to be the best ally and partner I can be in this fight—but one thing I know is that I would not be writing this today if it were not for generations of women and men who spoke out and stood up for each other during times of moral crisis."

In the past, Booker has argued that abortion is a subset of health care. Additionally, Chloe Angyal of Marie Claire writes that Booker is "one of the rare male candidates with a track record of showing up for reproductive rights." He cosponsored the Women's Health Protection Act in 2013, for example.

Elizabeth Warren

Elizabeth Warren, like Gillibrand, has provided a set of policies related to abortion rights and reproductive access that she would put in action, if elected president. Her proposal, called "Congressional Action to Protect Choice," suggests that "Congress should pass new federal laws that protect access to reproductive care from right-wing ideologues in the states."

One of the ways in which Warren proposes this can happen is by creating "federal, statutory rights that parallel the Constitutional right in Roe v. Wade." You can read her full policy plan in her Medium post here.

Bill Weld

It might surprise you to know that Bill Weld, the first Republican to challenge Trump for the presidential election, is pro-choice. In fact, he said in May that he was the most "pro-choice person you're ever going to meet" while at a campaign stop in New Hampshire, according to ABC News.

Weld said further,

The way I look at it, it's kind of a power issue. And who wants a lot of big, fat, white guys who live in Washington 700 miles away making the decision about what's going to happen about a family pregnancy, where the family has basis for some views and maybe wants to terminate the pregnancy?

If elected, Weld has confirmed that his standard for electing Supreme Court judges would be "pretty close" to having a litmus test for whether or not a person would uphold Roe, per ABC News.

Amy Klobuchar

During an appearance on Fox News Sunday earlier this month, Amy Klobuchar described the state of American politics in relation to abortion rights as "dangerous." She added, "It is a place that we have never seen. I think people have always warned that this could happen and it's actually happened."

Later on in the interview, Klobuchar said that, if she were elected, she would support the idea of "codifying Roe v. Wade into law," even if it's overturned before then.

Eric Swalwell

In a tweet on May 16, Eric Swalwell confirmed that, if elected, he would "defend Roe v. Wade and a woman's right to choose at all costs." He explained that one of his strategies would be to elect a Supreme Court justice who would uphold Roe as quickly as possible.

In a subsequent tweet, he also confirmed that he would work to repeal the Hyde Amendment (a legislative provision barring the use of federal funds to pay for abortion except to save the life of the woman), in order "to make sure abortion services are available to every woman, not just the wealthy."

Jay Inslee

Jay Inslee stated his belief that abortion should be a "civil right" during a recent campaign stop earlier in May. Per The Washington Examiner, Inslee said to a small crowd in New Hampshire on May 18, "In every single state, a woman should have a right of freedom and liberty, regardless of what their ZIP code is. And that’s why, when I’m president, I’m going to lead an effort to embrace a civil right, just like the Civil Rights Act of 1964."

He continued, "I’m proud to tell you that I’m a governor who’s had one of the first reproductive parity rights in the United States to make sure women not only have the right of freedom, but can get healthcare to make sure that it gets paid for."

Julián Castro

As seen in the tweet above, Julián Castro supports the expansion of reproductive services, rather than the restriction of them. He wrote, "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."

Bill de Blasio

In a recent tweet (as seen above), Bill de Blasio called Alabama's abortion ban an "attack on women in all 50 states." He continued, "We're in the fight of our lives and can't back down."

In January, de Blasio supported the passage of a bill guaranteeing women in New York that they would continue to have access to abortion care in the state even if Roe was overturned. Per ABC7NY, de Blasio said at the bill passage, "I support this act. It's crucial that we protect a woman's right to choose, particularly at this moment in history, when women's rights are under attack."

John Delaney

Earlier this month, John Delaney joined the multitude of politicians condemning the increased wave of anti-abortion legislature. He tweeted,

The abortion bans being implemented in Alabama and Georgia are an all-out attack on women and their freedom. Plain and simple. It places control over a woman’s physical body in the hands of the state.

Tim Ryan

In an article for The Akron Beacon Journal in January 2015, Ryan explained how his opinions on abortion had changed over time. He wrote in part, "...while there are people of good conscience on both sides of this argument, one thing has become abundantly clear to me: the heavy hand of government must not make this decision for women and families." Ryan retweeted this article earlier in May, reiterating that same essential belief.

During an interview with BuzzFeed News in April, as well, Ryan also took the time to explain again why his beliefs changed. He said, “I came in as a Catholic schoolkid from northeast Ohio who didn’t think a whole lot about the issue and went into Congress pro-life. My opinion changed that there should not be anyone from the federal government between a woman and her doctor.”

Wayne Messam

In a recent interview with WBUR, Florida Mayor Wayne Messam said that he believed abortion rights are "settled law, in terms of a woman's right of choice," adding, "I respect that settled law."

Messam further elaborated on his views in the interview, saying, "My position on a woman's right to their reproductive health, it should be left to the mother." He continued, "I think when a woman is forced with a tough decision to abort a pregnancy, it's tough enough by itself to have to make such a personal decision — a tough decision to make — and currently right now in our country this issue has been demagogued, and I think that primarily us men are making the decisions in the laws."

Beto O'Rourke

This month, Beto O'Rourke told people at a campaign stop in Ohio that he believed an abortion should always be a woman's choice, even for a late-term pregnancy. Per The Huffington Post, O'Rourke said, “The question is about abortion and reproductive rights. And my answer to you is, that should be a decision that the woman makes. I trust her.”

The publication reports that O'Rourke doubled down on this belief a day later, saying again at another campaign stop that he "absolutely" supported a woman's right to an abortion during her third trimester. He said, “I know better than to assume anything about a woman’s decision, an incredibly difficult decision, when it comes to her reproductive rights.”

Andrew Yang

On Andrew Yang's 2020 website, he explicitly supports the defense of rights to contraception and abortion. His policy reads in part, "Access to safe and affordable abortion services should also be provided to all Americans. Requirements placed by individual states on access should be subject to oversight by a board of doctors, not the whims of legislators who have no background on the procedure or even the basics of medicine."

Yang further notes that a Universal Basic Income (one of the policies he endorses) would help to decrease the number of abortions by providing "financial, emotional, and structural support to individuals who are financially struggling and become pregnant."

John Hickenlooper

Following the passage of Alabama's anti-abortion bill, former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper called for Roe v. Wade to be codified into law. He wrote in part in a tweet, "We must fight back, and our next president must act to enshrine Roe v. Wade into law."

Hickenlooper also supports using federal dollars to pay for abortion, per ThinkProgress.

Seth Moulton

In a tweet on May 15, Massachusetts Congressman Seth Moulton tweeted a strategy he would take to defend reproductive rights, if elected president. He wrote, "If elected, I'm committed to only nominating judges who would uphold Roe v. Wade. I'm calling on all Democratic candidates to do the same."

Steve Bullock

Montana Governor Steve Bullock has a pro-choice record. In one tweet this May, he wrote, "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." One of the more recent examples of this effort includes his veto of a Montana bill that aimed to require medical professionals to save babies who survived abortion attempts (such instances are already extremely rare). This writeup shows just how many anti-abortion bills he's vetoed since 2013.

In an interview with CNN on May 19, Bullock said that he personally believed life began at viability, but that "it's not up to people like me to be making these decisions." He continued, "It's not what I think, it's what does an individual woman need to do with her body and with her health care."

Donald Trump

Donald Trump might technically be the only actively pro-life presidential candidate in the 2020 race as of May, but even he doesn't appear to support the level of abortion bans seen in Alabama and Missouri. On May 18, Trump tweeted that he is "strongly Pro-Life, with the three exceptions [of] Rape, Incest and protecting the Life of the mother."

Trump did not directly acknowledge the new wave of anti-abortion legislature (which doesn't provide any of the exceptions named above), but he did reiterate his continued desire to run a pro-life platform. He said in a subsequent tweet, "If we are foolish and do not stay UNITED as one, all of our hard fought gains for Life can, and will, rapidly disappear!"

Marianne Williamson

During an interview with ABC News, Marianne Williamson argued that overturning Roe v. Wade wouldn't stop abortions from happening — rather, she said that "rich women will continue to have safe abortions," and those who couldn't afford abortions would have them illegally.

In a May 15 tweet, Williamson wrote, "Women rise, or what we most want ain’t gonna happen." She attached a link which showed how every vote for Alabama's abortion ban came from a white male lawmaker.

Mike Gravel

In a tweet on May 20, Mike Gravel argued that protecting Roe v. Wade was essential for the "economic future" of Americans, among other reasons. He wrote in part, "The right to abort must be secured with a Constitutional right. And we need to provide people economic security, the lack of which often pushes people toward abortion."

In another tweet earlier this month, Gravel wrote, "People have a right to high-quality healthcare. Thus people—as should be obvious—have a right to abortion."

Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders' site includes a comprehensive women's rights policy platform. Among other goals, he wants to fully fund Planned Parenthood and other initiatives that protect women's health and offer access to contraception and legal abortion. Additionally, he plans to oppose all legal efforts to undermine Roe and wants to pass the Equal Rights Amendment.

As The Cut notes, Sanders does not have a perfect record on abortion-rights rhetoric; however, he has maintained throughout his career that "abortion is healthcare," and has assured voters that he would never appoint a Supreme Court justice who wouldn't uphold Roe.

If a woman's right to choose is important to you, as well as a woman's right to accessing safe reproductive care, then it's essential you vote for a presidential candidate who promises to uphold Roe v. Wade. If you're interested in taking further action, you can also call your representatives in Congress and let them know how important it is to keep abortion legal in America.