LONG ISLAND CITY, N.Y. ― Pete Buttigieg, mayor of South Bend, Indiana, and a 2020 Democratic presidential hopeful, said during a campaign event Wednesday that men need to do more to defend women’s reproductive rights.
“I think it’s particularly important from a political stance for men to stand up,“ he said. “First, it’s the right thing to do. Second, because whenever somebody’s freedom is being suppressed, you never know if you’re going to be next.”
“I shouldn’t have to be a woman to stand up for women’s reproductive freedom,” he added.
The call to action drew cheers and applause from the roughly 200 people packed into LaGuardia Community College’s auditorium for the fireside chat hosted by the Queens County Democratic Party in Long Island City.
The 37-year-old presidential candidate tore into the wave of strict abortion laws sweeping the country, including a bill recently signed into law in Alabama that institutes a near-total ban on abortions at any stage of pregnancy, including in cases of rape and incest.
“I’d characterize them as hostile to American freedom,” Buttigieg, a U.S. Navy veteran, said Wednesday of the anti-abortion laws. “Standing up for freedom, in my opinion, includes making sure that women have the freedom to make these decisions on their own.”
A day earlier, Buttigieg joined demonstrators at a protest against anti-abortion laws in front of the Supreme Court in Washington. The rally was attended by three other Democratic presidential contenders: Sens. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Bernie Sanders of Vermont.
Buttigieg called access to abortion and reproductive health care “a national freedom” when asked about the restrictive abortion laws during a town hall with Fox News on Sunday.
“I think the dialogue has gotten so caught up on when you draw the line that we’ve gotten away from the fundamental question of who gets to draw the line,” Buttigieg said. “And I trust women to draw the line.”
“That decision [to have an abortion] is not going to be made any better, medically or morally, because the government is dictating how that decision should be made,” he said, adding that he would appoint justices and judges who will support abortion rights.
Watch Buttigieg’s full campaign event at LaGuardia Community College below: