It seemed odd to a lot of people that the Democratic candidates debated each other on five separate occasions without being asked about abortion. The situation became much more curious last night, when Bernie Sanders finally raised the issue — but without using the word “abortion.” Clinton, too, never used the actual word, despite touting her Planned Parenthood endorsement.

The strange, abortion-shaped hole in the first five Democratic debates even spurred a hashtag, #AskAboutAbortion. Obviously the candidates are going to say they support a “woman’s right to choose,” broadly, but given the recent physical and legislative attacks on Planned Parenthood, it seems worth asking, say, how a Democratic president would work with the large chunk of the GOP who get up each day with the intent of rolling back Roe v. Wade. (Remember that a House Judiciary subcommittee is still technically “investigating” Planned Parenthood.)

And when the topic came up last night, it wasn’t because moderators Gwen Ifill or Judy Woodruff asked an abortion question, despite making history as the first female duo to ever moderate a debate. Instead, Sanders raised it during a broader discussion about women’s rights:

His full mini-monologue on the subject:

It will not shock anybody to suggest that in politics there is occasionally a little bit of hypocrisy, just a little bit. All over this country we have Republican candidates for president saying we hate the government, government is the enemy. We’re going to cut Social Security to help you. We’re going to cut Medicare and Medicaid, federal aid to education to help you, because the government is so terrible. But by the way, when it comes to a woman having to make a very personal choice, ah, in that case my Republican colleagues love the government and the government to make that choice for every woman in America. If that’s not hypocrisy, I don’t know what hypocrisy is.

What curious phrasing! And more curious still, Sanders’ team isn’t shy about using the word “abortion” on social media:

Clinton, meanwhile, said she was proud of her endorsement from the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, “because I’ve been a leader on these issues.”

What issues, guys? What choice?

NARAL, among other groups, expressed their frustration at the lack of questions at the end of the night:


Contact the author at anna.merlan@jezebel.com.
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