Kaylee Sheppard

As we begin to narrow the 2020 Democratic candidates, reproductive rights are on the front lines of the conversation.

With abortion bans passing in several states, there is a growing demand for candidates to share their plan to protect reproductive freedoms during their administration if they win it all.

So, who has the best plan for reproductive rights in 2020? I was lucky enough to attend Planned Parenthood’s 2020 candidates forum, “We Decide 2020,” where 800 other Planned Parenthood members heard from 20 different democratic nominee-hopefuls on their plans to protect abortion access and reproductive healthcare.

Here, I will highlight the five candidates I think have the best plans for protecting reproductive rights. I want to emphasize this is not an endorsement, but a result of my own research to date of reproductive rights plans put out by candidates and their ideas shared at the Planned Parenthood forum.

A general takeaway I took from the event is there are two common threads that democrats are dedicated to doing: 1) Making Roe v. Wade a federal law, ensuring that states cannot infringe on this standard for abortion access and 2) they all support repealing the Hyde amendment, which is a legislative provision barring use of federal funds to go toward abortion care. The only exception to that rule is risk to the women’s life, rape or incest.

Kamala Harris

For me, Harris has the strongest stance of defending reproductive freedom because of her plan to use the Department of Justice in blocking laws which do not align with Roe v. Wade. She plans to require states to get the OK from the U.S. Department of Justice for all changes related to reproductive healthcare access.

Harris also said she would not give federal dollars to clinics that spread misinformation about options surrounding pregnancy.

The reason I think her plan is the best is because I think preclearance is key in catching legislation that may be subtly worded, but could result in a closure of an abortion clinic due to some new regulation.

Many clinics have had to close or stop providing abortions due to a required footage to the hallways or specific medications they must have on hand at all times that are expensive and unnecessary.

Beto O’Rourke

One unique aspect of his plan which makes his plan so favorable is his initiative to direct the Food and Drug Administration to remove “labeling regulations that impose barriers to the use of medication-based abortions.”

Few candidates from what I have seen have really looked at the regulation that is causing clinics to struggle or close. I also see this goal as attainable and realistic.

He also outlines different goals for each branch of government to protect those freedoms from all around. At the forum, he did not share his plan specifically, since most questions were directed at immigration.

O’Rourke also discussed gerrymandering and voter suppression in Georgia, which contributed to the loss of democratic nominee for governor, Stacy Abrams. If Abrams had been elected, the Georgia abortion ban would have never been signed into law.

Cory Booker

At the presidential forum, Booker highlighted a lot of issues surrounding reproductive freedom, including how restricted access disproportionately affects lower income women.

He also has published areproductive rights plan which includes the creation of a White House Office of Reproductive Freedom, which would be crafted to advance abortion rights and expand access to reproductive health care. Another feature of the plan would be to guarantee employer-based contraceptive care coverage.

Why I place Booker at third is his desire to create this office and he has showed his understanding of the issues with abortion access for lower-income communities, which often get overlooked.

Elizabeth Warren

One of the first reasons I like Elizabeth Warren is because she emphasized that reproductive healthcare is not just a women’s issue, but everyone’s.

I think that is central to this whole debate – more men need to consider how the effects on abortion bans and less reproductive healthcare access will affect them personally and their family planning.

She was also the first Democratic candidate to put out a plan to protect reproductive rights when the abortion ban laws began passing around the country. Her plan shares similar features to those of other candidates, but she started the trend of candidates writing out their tactics, which is worth highlighting.

Amy Klobuchar

At the Planned Parenthood forum, Klobuchar said she would repeal the domestic and global gag rules if elected president. She also mentioned at the event the importance of “making sure that we have judges that follow the law of the land” when it comes to Roe v. Wade.

Klobuchar was the first to speak to the Planned Parenthood event and was very thoughtful and informed about the issue, but this also is not the first forum where she has discussed the issue.

Klobuchar also spoke about the issue at a Fox News Town Hall in May. She shared the same ideas and passion with a more conservative plan. In my opinion, consistency across all voters is important, especially with this issue.

Overall, all candidates were prepared to defend abortion access and promote reproductive healthcare. But in this election, we need a candidate that will take bold and creative steps to ensure these rights are ingrained in American law.

However, I encourage all readers to do their own research and decide for themselves. This election is too important for reproductive rights to not make an informed decision about everyone’s policies.

Kaylee Sheppard is a junior majoring in American Studies and Political Science. She can be reached at ksheppa7@vols.utk.edu.

Columns and letters of The Daily Beacon are the views of the individual and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Beacon or the Beacon's editorial staff.

UT Sponsored Content