Hillary Clinton, towards the end of last night’s televised Democratic debate with Bernie Sanders, wondered aloud why the moderators haven’t asked any questions about abortion.
“We’ve had eight debates before, this is our ninth,” Clinton said. “We’ve not had one question about a woman’s right to make her own decisions about reproductive healthcare. Not one question! And in the meantime…we have governors doing everything they can to restrict women’s rights, we have a presidential candidate by the name of Donald Trump saying that women should be punished, and we are never asked about this. And…Senator Sanders said with respect to Trump it was a ‘distraction.'”
“I don’t think it’s a distraction,” Clinton continued. “It goes to the heart of who we are as women. Our rights. Our autonomy. Our ability to make our own decision. And we need to be talking about that, and defending Planned Parenthood from these outrageous attacks.”
Sanders responded to Clinton by boasting about his “100 percent pro-choice voting record,” and he called for “expanding funding for Planned Parenthood.”
This discourse came about as Hillary Clinton was answering Sanders on President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland. While Sanders said he would push for Senate Republicans to hold hearings, the Vermont senator added that he wants more liberal Justices on the Supreme Court.
Clinton used this exchange to press the issue — without mentioning the word “abortion”– to her advantage.
The exchange on abortion between Clinton and Sanders highlighted the difference between Republicans and Democrats on the issue of abortion. Gallup has found that 51 percent of Americans believe that abortion should “only be legal under certain circumstances,” which would include favoring parental notification/consent laws, and ultrasound viewings. Meanwhile, 29 percent of Americans said abortion should be “legal under all circumstances,” while 19 percent think abortion should be “illegal in all circumstances.”
Gallup also found that 50 percent of Americans consider themselves “pro-choice,” while 44 percent consider themselves “pro-life.”
It was one of many heated exchanges in the debate between Secretary Clinton, who leads in the delegate count, and Senator Sanders, a self-described socialist who has won the last seven Democratic primaries.
Clinton represented New York as a U.S. Senator from 2001-2008, while Sanders grew up in Brooklyn.
Clinton currently leads Sanders in the Real Clear Politics average of polls by 13.8 percent.
Among the other highlights of the debate:
- Wolf Blitzer asked Bernie Sanders about Hillary Clinton’s judgment to be president. Sanders then impugned Obama’s “disastrous foreign policy” which Clinton oversaw while secretary of state. Clinton then dismissed Sanders’ attack “as an attack on President Obama,” which was met with boos from the audience.
- When reforming the banking system came up, Sanders bashed Clinton for not releasing transcripts of her speeches to Goldman-Sachs executives. He asked her twice about this, and then co-moderator Dana Bash followed up as well, but she never answered the question directly.
There are 247 delegates at stake in New York’s Tuesday primary. According to Real Clear Politics, Clinton currently has 1,761 delegates, while Sanders has 1,073 of the 2,382 needed to clinch the nomination. But among actual delegates won, the margin is 1,292 for Hillary Clinton, and 1,042 for Bernie Sanders (Clinton maintains a huge lead in the “superdelegate” column, 369 to 31).
[Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]