WASHINGTON ― Speaking Tuesday night at Planned Parenthood’s 100th anniversary gala, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton explained why she considers supporting legal abortion to be taking the moral high ground.
As secretary of state, first lady and a senator, Clinton said she has met women who have faced difficult choices.
“I have visited hospitals in Brazil where half of the women who were joyously welcoming new babies, and half were fighting for their lives after botched illegal abortions,” she said. “I talked with women activists in Romania who were living under a dictator who decreed that all women should have five children.”
Clinton, who received Planned Parenthood’s “Champion of the Century” award, said abortion is a health and core economic issue. But, she added, “anyone who wants to lead should also understand that fundamentally, this is an issue of morality.”
“Let us respect people’s convictions,” she said. “But never back down from our commitment to defend the ability of every woman to make these deeply personal decisions for herself. I wish there were common ground, but I know for sure it is higher ground.”
Since losing the 2016 presidential election, Clinton has watched President Donald Trump repeatedly take aim at abortion rights and family planning access. She said it has been particularly hard for her to watch him sign women’s health legislation while surrounded by men, when she was so close to being the nation’s first female president.
“I mean, could you believe those photos of men around that conference table deciding how to strip away coverage for pregnancy and maternity coverage?” she said, referring to a recent meeting of the House Freedom Caucus on the Obamacare repeal bill. “I gotta say, my favorite internet meme about this was the dogs sitting around the table discussing feline care. So on point.”
Clinton said she finds it “bewildering” when people ask her why she cares so much about women’s health issues.
“I’m a grandmother,” she said, “and much to the surprise of many, I am a human being. I’m also a person of faith who doesn’t take my positions lightly or come to them with a cavalier attitude.”
If conservatives want to stop abortion, she said, they need to stop going after organizations like Planned Parenthood and the United Nations Population Fund, which provide contraceptive services to women in need. Trump targeted both in his first 100 days of office.
“I believe that anyone who is opposed to abortion should be in favor of preventing unintended pregnancy, expanding economic opportunity and fighting for policies that actually support parenthood,” Clinton said.