It’s not the questions Lester Holt, Andrea Mitchell and random YouTube celebrities asked that stood out in Sunday night’s Democratic debate. They were predictable, looking for differences between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton on Wall Street, guns, foreign policy and Black Lives Matter. (The moderators didn’t seem to care much about Martin O’Malley, but to be fair, it seems voters don’t either.)
What stood out was the question they didn’t ask, the question they haven’t asked in any of the Democratic debates, like it’s some kind of filthy taboo: the question about abortion.
It’s remarkable how many pro-choice progressives believe we don’t need to ask about abortion at these debates, either because abortion is already “the law of the land” or because there are no differences among the candidates.
Roe v. Wade, of course, made abortion legal across the country, but in the years since, that essential right has been chipped and chiseled away until what’s left is little more than a crude rendering of that right. If you are a poor woman in this country — especially a woman of color, especially in a rural area, especially in a red state — the right to an abortion may very well be a meaningless abstraction.
In the past few years, conservative state legislators and governors, working hand-in-hand with anti-abortion activists, have become increasingly clever and sophisticated about making it more and more difficult for women to obtain abortions. They’ve imposed mandatory waiting periods, and increased them to as long as three days. They’ve crafted absurd and unnecessary regulations on abortion clinics, all in the name of “women’s health,” forcing many to shut down. They make women look at ultrasounds of their pregnancies (because apparently women don’t know what being pregnant actually means), and force doctors to read lectures written by politicians, often containing medically inaccurate information. They refuse to allow government-provided insurance to pay for a procedure that is a safe, standard and necessary part of health care.