Abortion is healthcare and healthcare is a right. But what good is a right if you can’t afford it? This is a bigger question when it comes to abortion than with most healthcare. TRAP Laws – Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers – have driven most clinics out of a number of states, and caused other to consolidate in just a few areas. For millions, an abortion takes more than “good” health insurance. It also takes time off from work, gas money for what might be a hundred-mile trip, and the cost of whatever that insurance won’t cover. In place since 1977, the Hyde Amendment prohibits federal funds from covering abortion entirely in most cases (Washington is one of only a few states that make up the difference with state money). What better way to evaluate two long-serving politicians than to compare their approach to this equally long-vexing issue?

“I don’t like the Supreme Court decision on abortion. I think it went too far. I don’t think that a woman has the sole right to say what should happen to her body.” -Joe Biden, 1974

Joe Biden opposes the Hyde Amendment. Or at least, he’s opposed it for almost a year – he supported it until June 6, 2019. Biden considers abortion antithetical to his Catholic faith, although he is willing to support it when politically expedient. His voting record is mixed, but his repeated votes against insurance funding of abortion for federal employees are a perfect example of why your boss shouldn’t be in charge of your healthcare. As recently as 2006, Biden stated that he does not “view abortion as a choice and a right.” Speaking of healthcare, does Joe Biden support it? Well, yes – he supports you having health insurance. Specifically, buying health insurance. Don’t worry, though! Biden also supports a means-tested tax credit to offset a portion of the cost of private health insurance purchased on the market. Do you like the Health Marketplace? Do you like doing your taxes? Why not combine the two!

"It strikes me as incredible that politicians think that they have the right to tell a woman what she can or cannot do with her body," -Bernie Sanders, 1972

Bernie Sanders’ stubbornness is well-known. He has had many of the same policy positions for decades, a point of critique from one of Hillary Clinton’s former spokespeople. Regretfully for her and other detractors, Sanders’ policy positions haven’t changed because they’re good. He stated while Mayor of Burlington, VT that abortion was a matter strictly between a patient and doctor – not one for the government to obstruct. His statements and voting record have reflected this belief ever since, and his Senate website states it clearly. Pramila Jayapal’s Medicare-for-All plan – which expanded upon and replaced Sanders’ own – covers abortion and would abolish the Hyde Amendment. It is reviled by anti-abortion think-tanks and conservative media for that reason (and likely a few others, largely related to their taxes and investment portfolios).

Democrats as a whole are closer to the Joe Biden model than they like to think. Nancy Pelosi and Amy Klobuchar have both publicly stated that they include anti-abortion candidates as part of the Democrats’ “Big Tent.” The Democratic Socialists of America are a big tent too, but at our 2019 National Convention we resolved “To have all federal, state, and local candidates endorsed by DSA vocally, enthusiastically, and unequivocally support abortion rights, access to abortion, the repeal of the Hyde amendment, and full federal funding of abortion.” Seems easy enough!

If you believe that healthcare is a right, make sure you turn in your primary ballot marked for Bernie Sanders by March 10 (for those outside of Washington, find your primary or caucus date here). Remember to check the box for the Democratic Party, or your vote will not be counted! Ballots can be dropped off in election dropboxes until 8pm on March 10.

Beyond the Primary

Olympia DSA is committed to abortion access as an essential part of our push for universal healthcare. That’s why we’re joining our comrades across the country in raising funds for abortion access with the National Network of Abortion Funds’ 2020 Fund-a-Thon!

The NNAF’s local affiliate, the Northwest Abortion Access Fund, covers people seeking abortions in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, or Alaska. Direct grants might cover the abortion itself, travel, or lodging – whatever is needed. You can donate to our team or join it – or even create your own! Not in Olympia? NWAAF also has Fund-a-Thon events in Seattle, Portland, and Boise, and the NNAF has others across the whole country. Look for your local DSA team, or start one!