POLITICS

10 Questions Debate Moderators Could Ask The Democratic Candidates About Abortion

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Another Democratic presidential debate concluded Thursday without a question about abortion put to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). 

The lack of questions about reproductive health care in the primary's six debates has spawned a Twitter campaign -- #AskAboutAbortion -- and confused both antiabortion and abortion rights advocates, who see it as a crucial issue that the Democratic candidates should have an opportunity to address, as their Republican counterparts have in multiple face-offs. 

PBS asked Clinton, who got just 45 percent of women's votes in the New Hampshire primary Tuesday, "what are women missing about you?" The moderators asked Sanders whether he's worried he "will be the instrument of thwarting history" if he prevents Clinton from becoming the nation's first female president. The fact that both candidates talked about their pro-choice records in response -- and, as Fusion pointed out, used 252 words to avoid saying "abortion" -- points to a desperate need to ask the candidates about abortion directly. 

So here are 10 questions moderators of upcoming debates could turn to if they're strapped for ideas. Hopefully they'll recognize that there are differences between the candidates that should be explored before the primary ends. 

For both Clinton and Sanders: 

1) With abortion clinics being targeted across the country and a record number of restrictions on abortion being passed out of Republican-controlled state legislatures, what would you be able to do, as president, to expand access to abortion and other forms of reproductive health care?

2) Both of you have said that you would expand funding for Planned Parenthood. But with Republicans in Congress repeatedly voting to cut the group’s Medicaid and Title X funding, how would you do that?

3) A major case being heard at the Supreme Court in March has the potential to close nearly half of the remaining abortion clinics in Texas. Are you optimistic or nervous about the outcome of this case and what do you think can be done to keep clinics open in states where they are at risk of closure, like in Mississippi, where just one clinic remains open?

4) Do you consider violence against abortion clinics to be domestic terrorism, and how would you respond to it as president?

5) If you were moderating a Republican primary debate, what question would you ask the candidates about abortion and reproductive health care access? 

For Sanders: 

6) While both of you have said you would repeal the Hyde Amendment, only Secretary Clinton has said this at rallies, candidate forums and interviews. You have said you would reinstate Medicaid funding for all abortions in statements and on Twitter, but not out loud. Why haven't you spoken about your stance on this issue more vocally? 

7) In an interview with Rolling Stone last July, you said, "Once you get off of the social issues -- abortion, gay rights, guns -- and into the economic issues, there is a lot more agreement than the pundits understand." Reproductive justice advocates have criticized you for not characterizing abortion as an economic issue and not making the connection between economic freedom and reproductive freedom. Do you believe abortion is also an economic issue, and if so, why do you not talk about it that way?

8) You have touted the 100 percent pro-choice voting record you've received from major reproductive rights groups, but those groups have said they endorsed Clinton because she is more of a “champion” for reproductive health care access. How would you rebut that comparison and how have you championed reproductive health care? 

For Clinton: 

9) You told The New Hampshire Union-Leader last July that you found the series of sting videos an antiabortion group made purportedly showing Planned Parenthood staff discussing fetal tissue donations “disturbing.” What about those videos did you find disturbing? How would you handle Republican-initiated investigations of Planned Parenthood, none of which have found evidence of wrongdoing on the part of the provider?

10) Reproductive justice advocates have criticized you for saying as recently as last year that you believe abortion should be “rare,” in addition to it being “safe and legal.” They argue that the word “rare” stigmatizes the procedure. What instances of abortion do you believe should be reduced?

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