Before we get to the debates, past and future, can we just take a moment to consider the fact that it’s 2016 and we have an actual major-party Presidential candidate-the nominee of the “family values” party, no less–who says stuff like this?
If you have relatives, friends, or other loved ones who are voting for, or considering voting for, Donald Trump, we encourage you to send them this video, along with a message about why Trump’s contempt for women transcends political views–no matter what you believe about the national debt, or immigration, or even the right to choose, no one who talks about women this way has any business in the same ZIP code as the Oval Office.
At the vice-presidential debate on Tuesday, moderator Elaine Quijano asked both candidates a softball question about their faith. When Indiana Gov. Mike Pence launched into a long sermon about the “sanctity of life” (complete with a preacher’s tone of hushed sincerity) and demanded to know how Kaine, a Catholic, could possibly be pro-choice, Kaine responded calmly that he, like most religious people, is capable of separating his religion from his job. So while he is personally “pro-life,” Kaine said, he believes in trusting women to make decisions about their own bodies and futures.
Pence’s unconvincing response was to cite Bible verses, talk about how he became a born-again Christian in his freshman year, and suggest that women who want abortions should instead bear children for the many families who can’t conceive. He also denied that his running mate ever said women should be punished for having abortions (he did) and touted his state’s generous funding for “crisis pregnancy centers,” fake clinics that try to bait-and-switch women seeking abortions into carrying their pregnancies to term.
As Katha Pollitt enumerated this week in the the New York Times, Pence has been an absolute disaster for women as governor of Indiana, where a “feticide” law he supported led to the conviction of a woman who attempted a self-induced abortion.
Here’s Pollitt: “A few highlights: As Indiana governor, he promoted a law, stayed by a federal judge, which would have banned abortion for fetal disability. The law also mandated the cremation or burial of aborted — or miscarried — embryos and fetuses, no matter how early. He slashed Planned Parenthood’s budget, which led to the closing of five clinics that provided testing for sexually transmitted diseases and coincided with a rise in H.I.V. infection in his state. And as a congressman, he led the fight to shut down the government over Planned Parenthood funding in 2011.”
The second Presidential debate is Sunday night, 6pm PST, and by all accounts, Donald Trump is not bothering to prepare, relying on his “tremendous temperament” to get him through a second bout with perhaps the most qualified, prepared Democratic candidate in US history.
Unlike Tuesday’s vice-presidential debate, in which questions about the economy were literally outsourced to the conservative Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget, the questions at Sunday’s debate are being outsourced to… You! That’s right, ABC and CNN have agreed to consider the top 30 questions on the Open Debate Coalition’s website.
So far, every debate moderator has refused to ask the candidates whether they believe women have the constitutional right to determine when, whether, and how to start or expand a family. This question is vital not just for the obvious reason–Donald Trump is on the record saying that “there has to be some form of punishment” for women who get abortions, and (aside from some backpedaling immediately after making the statement) hasn’t been questioned on his position on women’s right to choose.
Given that this is a man who considers women nothing more than objects for his sexual pleasure and (as he put it recently, justifying his routine humiliation of women who cross him “dogs,” “pigs,” “fat” and “disgusting”) “entertainment,” the American people needs to know where Donald Trump stands on women’s reproductive freedom. And with women’s right to choose in grave danger across the country, there is no excuse for these debates to ignore an issue that impacts every American, directly or indirectly.
We encourage you to vote for this question, which is the highest-trending question about reproductive rights: “How would you ensure access to abortion regardless of someone’s income level?” Thanks, and we’ll be watching along with you Sunday night.