When Washington Gov. Jay Inslee bragged about his reproductive rights record during the first 2020 Democratic presidential debate on Wednesday night, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar could not suppress a smirk.
Inslee claimed he was the “only candidate here who has passed a law protecting a woman’s right of reproductive health in health insurance” ― an apparent reference to the Reproductive Parity Act, which he signed into law last year. The legislation requires all insurance plans in Washington state, both public and private, that cover maternity care to also cover abortions.
“I respect everybody’s goals and plans here, but we do have one candidate that’s actually advanced the ball” on access to abortions, the governor added.
Inslee punched his fist in the air as he spoke of his achievement. Two rostrums to his right, Klobuchar smiled as she listened to Inslee’s remarks.
She then hit him with a reality check.
Klobuchar reminded Inslee that the three female lawmakers on stage ― herself, Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii — had all “fought pretty hard for a woman’s right to choose.”
Her rebuttal was met with applause and cheers from the audience.
Klobuchar later told CNN’s Anderson Cooper that she felt her exchange with Inslee was “one of my more interesting moments” during the debate.
“Governor Inslee claimed the mantle of being the one leading on women’s reproductive rights, at which point I said, I think there are three women on stage that have done a pretty good job on that,” she recalled of her clapback.
When asked by Cooper if she thought the exchange had been a “good” moment for her, the senator replied with a laugh: “Yes.”
As Vox noted, all the Democratic candidates for president are advocates for reproductive rights, and almost all support codifying Roe v. Wade into federal law.
Some candidates, however, have made reproductive rights a greater priority in their campaigns and have proposed robust plans to ensure improved access to reproductive health care for all Americans.
Warren, for instance, was one of the first candidates to put forth a comprehensive plan to expand reproductive rights. Her plan calls for the repeal of the Hyde Amendment, a reversal of the Trump administration’s domestic gag rule and the restoration of funding for Title X family planning, among other protections.
Sens. Cory Booker of New Jersey, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Kamala Harris of California were also among the candidates to unveil detailed reproductive rights plans early in their campaigns. Gillibrand and Harris will be participating in the second 2020 Democratic presidential debate, scheduled for Thursday.
Klobuchar has also been firm in her support of reproductive rights, though she lacks a comprehensive policy on the issue.
The senator said at a town hall last month that people should “have the right to make their own decisions” when it comes to abortion, though she added that limits on late-term abortions “are very important.”
Inslee also does not have a detailed reproductive rights plan, but the governor has been similarly clear in his support of abortion rights. He said at a campaign stop in May that abortion should be a “civil right.”
“In every single state, a woman should have a right of freedom and liberty, regardless of what their ZIP code is,” Inslee said at the time.
Gabbard, on the other hand, has a mixed record when it comes to reproductive rights.
Early in her career, Gabbard was not a supporter of abortion, but says her views on the issue have since changed. She says she supports repealing the Hyde Amendment, and recently called Alabama’s restrictive abortion law “extremely dangerous.”