Bernie Sanders likes to present himself as the ultimate progressive politician, but he exposed himself a few days ago with his support of an anti-choice candidate. It seems that his progressivism is limited to a few narrowly defined economic issues, and he fails to realize that other issues (like abortion rights) are also economic justice issues for many (especially the poor).
Here is much of an article by Casey Quinlan at Think Progress on this:
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) took a firestorm of criticism over the weekend for campaigning for an Omaha mayoral candidate who supported abortion restrictions. In the slew of coverage following Sanders’ support of Democratic Nebraska lawmaker Heath Mello, media outlets and Sanders himself framed abortion access as separate from economic issues — when in reality, abortion restrictions hurt low-income people the most.
In 2009, his first year in Nebraska’s state legislature, Mello supported a bill mandating doctors offer an ultrasound before performing an abortion, which he said was a “positive first step to reducing the number of abortions in Nebraska.” Mello also sponsored the final version of a 20-week abortion ban and voted for a law banning insurance plans from covering abortion, Rewire reported. Mello’s campaign manager told The Huffington Post that he received a 100 percent rating from Planned Parenthood, but Planned Parenthood Voters of Nebraska said the statements about a 100 percent rating were misleading.
Understandably, Sanders’ support for Mello was seen as running counter to progressive values. . . .
Last week, Sanders told NPR that in order for Democrats to get control of the House and Senate, they have to “appreciate where people come from.”
“But I think you just can’t exclude people who disagree with us on one issue,” Sanders said.
The low-income people most affected by abortion restrictions might disagree with Sanders and the media on the characterization that abortion is just “one issue” or a social or cultural issue, rather than an economic one.
Seventy-five percent of abortion patients were poor or low-income in 2014, according to the Guttmacher Institute. Due in part to barriers to contraceptive access, poor women and other people trying not to conceive are three times more likely to get pregnant than higher income people and five times more likely to give birth, according to a 2015 Brookings Institution paper. Abortion rates were also lower for the poor, because although middle-class women abort more of their pregnancies, they have less unintended pregnancies, and thus fewer abortions overall, Slate explained.
With lack of access to affordable abortion options — thanks to the Hyde Amendment, which officially prohibits federal taxpayer dollars from paying for abortions — many women have attempted to induce their own abortion. Only 17 states direct Medicaid to pay for all or most medically necessary abortions, according to the Guttmacher Institute, but the national average for an abortion in the first trimester is around $500 and as much as $2,000 for the second trimester.
The Hyde Amendment has restricted abortion access for many economically distressed groups, such as low-income Washington, D.C. residents, incarcerated people, military personnel, and Native Americans. . . .
States continued to pass restrictions on abortion last year. Fourteen states passed 30 laws to make it more challenging to get an abortion in 2016. Today, 31 states have at least one restriction on abortion, including waiting periods, requiring doctors to have admitting privileges, restricting health insurance coverage for abortion, and banning abortion after 20 weeks. And these requirements have very real consequences for low-income women and women of color.
A 2016 University of Buffalo study looked at 3,999 intakes from the George Tiller Memorial Fund, a National Network of Abortion Funds-affiliated nonprofit fund, and found that about half of the women who tried to get assistance from the fund were black, which squares with data on black women facing more health care barriers than white women. Thirty-seven percent of the women already had multiple children. The average distance they traveled to get an abortion doubled from 2010 to 2015.
Low-income people face difficult decisions when they don’t have the resources to get an abortion. Somewhere between 100,000 and 240,000 women of reproductive age living in the state of Texas alone have tried to induce their abortion without any medical assistance, according to a 2015 report from the Texas Policy Evaluation Project (TxPEP), a group of researchers at the University of Texas. Most of the women surveyed said they would have gone to a clinic if they had the option.
Sanders was not the only progressive who faced blowback for his support of Mello. Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez, who has been traveling the country with Sanders on what they’re calling a “Unity Tour” to address political differences between Sanders and DNC supporters, did not attend the event but has also supported Mello.
Sanders, Perez, and others who ignore the economic realities of abortion — or pit the two as separate issues — would do better to reconsider.