Sanders announces plans to expand abortion access and funding

shutterstock 1511546633 Bernie Sanders, Vermont Senator and Democratic presidential candidate. | Rich Koele/Shutterstock

If elected president, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) would use his Medicare for all policy to increase access to abortion nationwide, and roll back limits on state funding for the procedure, his campaign announced on Saturday.

"Bernie believes abortion is a constitutional right, period," says the opening of his campaign's "Reproductive Health Care and Justice for All" plan, published on his website March 7. 

The Vermont senator is one of three candidates remaining in the race for the Democratic nomination for president. If elected, Sanders' campaing said he would move to overturn the Hyde Amendment, which prevents federal funding from going to abortion services. Abortion and other reproductive health services "will be provided free at the point of serrvice," along with contraception.

"When we are in the White House, Bernie will fight back against the Republican assault on abortion rights across the country and defend a woman's right to control her own body here at home and around the world," the plan states. 

Since 2016, repealing the Hyde Amendment has been a part of the Democratic Party's platform. 

"In order to ensure everyone can receive the reproductive health care they need under Medicare for All, Bernie will significantly expand funding for Planned Parenthood, Title X, and other initiatives that protect women's health, access to contraception, and the availability of a safe and legal abortion," said the plan. 

Sanders also pledged to fill any judicial vacancies with judges who will support the right to abortion and will "protect reproductive rights at every level."

"As President, Bernie will work tirelessly to undo the damage Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell have done," says the plan. 

The plan notes that Sanders would use executive orders to overturn the Trump administration's pro-life policies, including the Protecting Life in Global Health Assistance policy and the changes to Title X. Sanders would increase funding to Planned Parenthood, and resume funding the United Nations Population Fund. The self-described democratic socialist would also work to increase the number of abortion facilities in low-income and minority areas, his campaign said. 

The policy document said a Sanders andminstration would also "ban ineffective abstinence-only sex education," ensure "anti-choice crisis pregnancy centers" do not receive any Title X or government funding, and would make birth control pills available over the counter for free. 

As president, Sanders would require that any state-level abortion law receive federal preclearance, though by what legal mechanism this would be achieved was not made clear. 

Lila Rose, founder of the pro-life group Live Action, called Sanders' plan "insane," and said that it would "extend the slaughter of innoncent human beings and the harm of women and girls." 

"He can't be allowed our nation's levers of power," said Rose in a tweet published March 9. 

The plan also highlights Sanders' longtime support for legal abortion, referencing a comments the senator made in 1972, before the Supreme Court's Roe vs. Wade decision legalized abortion nationwide.

Sanders spoke out in 1972 against male politicians who "think that they have the right to tell a woman what she can or cannot do with her body." 

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