2020 presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) rolled out his "reproductive health" — i.e. abortion — agenda over the weekend and it contains some extreme positions that are par for the course for the rest of his far-left and expensive political agenda.
To begin, Sanders' plan promises that, under his signature "Medicare for All" plan, "the Hyde Amendment will be repealed and all reproductive health services will be provided free at the point of service." Of course, the government cannot really make any commodity or service truly "free," but merely change how it is paid for and who pays for it, meaning that this would leave American taxpayers to pick up the tab for all abortion services.
But the proposal talks about more than covering the cost of abortion. It adds that a Sanders administration would also invert one of President Trump's more combatted pro-life policies — stripping abortion providers of Title X funding — by turning that defunding effort on pro-life pregnancy resource centers and threatening to strip them of Title X and "other government funds." At the same time, the proposal also pledges to defend and increase government funding for Planned Parenthood — America's largest abortion provider.
Sanders' abortion plan also addresses how America's children would be educated on the subject of sex by vowing to ban "ineffective abstinence-only sex education," rather than leaving the question of sexual education curricula up to parents and educators.
The Vermont senator's proposal goes on to address pro-abortion advocates' anxieties about the future of abortion rights in the realm of federal court decisions.
"As President, Bernie will work tirelessly to undo the damage Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell have done," the plan says, referencing the White House and Senate's efforts to fill federal judicial vacancies under President Trump. "That means working with reproductive justice and advocacy groups to fill vacancies with highly qualified, principled judges who will protect reproductive rights at every level."
On that front, Sanders' proposal says guarantees that he would require "all judicial nominees to support Roe v. Wade as settled law" and that the 1973 abortion ruling would also be codified in "legislative statute."
Further down the page, the plan also pays special attention to how issues of so-called "reproductive justice" affect minority populations.
"If abortion is legal, but your state has no or too few reproductive health clinics, then you do not have reproductive justice or freedom," the page reads. It later adds, "We must address these issues holistically to ensure true reproductive justice for all, especially in communities of color."
In contrast to those listed concerns, however, many pro-life advocates to argue that abortion providers specifically target black communities. 2012 research from the Life Issues Institute based on 2010 census data found that Planned Parenthood had "79% of its 165 surgical abortion facilities within walking distance of African American or Hispanic/Latino neighborhoods," and updated research from the same organization in 2015 found 78% facilities in walking distance of either black or hispanic neighborhoods. Furthermore, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention numbers from 2018 showed that black women had abortions at much higher rates than their white counterparts.
Sanders' plan drew praise from NARAL Pro-Choice America President Ilyse Hogue, who called it "robust" and "a very solid plan on its merits" while saying the organization "would like to see the same" from rival candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden.
.@BernieSanders just released a robust plan on abortion rights and reproductive justice. See it here:… https://t.co/TxX2fk2zak— ilyse hogue (@ilyse hogue)1583615371.0
But since so much of Sanders' abortion proposal hinges on his "Medicare for All plan," there are legitimate questions about exactly how much of it could actually make the difficult transition from campaign pledge to standing policy.
Sanders campaign surrogate Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) admitted weeks ago that the plan might not be able to get the congressional support necessary for passage if Sanders is elected.
"A president can't wave a magic wand and pass any legislation they want," Ocasio-Cortez said in a mid-February HuffPost interview. She added that "The worst-case scenario? We compromise deeply and we end up getting a public option."
Disclosure: The author of this post is a volunteer board member at Capitol Hill Pregnancy Center, a pregnancy resource center in Washington, D.C. His reporting is his own.