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Media Predict Next Female-Moderated Debate’s Focus: Abortion

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
AP Photo/Butch Dill)

Many in the media are expressing excitement over the upcoming Democratic debate that will be moderated solely by women. That’s because, they predict, an all-female panel means a focus on “women’s issues,” and, more specifically, abortion.


On October 23, news reports revealed that the next presidential candidate debate will be moderated by four women: MSNBC hosts Rachel Maddow and Andrea Mitchell, NBC News White House correspondent Kristen Welker, and Washington Post White House reporter Ashley Parker, who also serves as an NBC and MSNBC senior political analyst.

Co-hosted by MSNBC and the Washington Post, the debate held in Georgia on November 20 will make history as the “second time a major televised political debate has been led by moderators who are all women,” HuffPost’s Lydia O’Connor reported.

The media suggested it could make history for something else too: addressing abortion in-depth.

O’Connor urged that one “thing to keep an eye out for with an all-female panel” is “potentially more questions about abortion.” 

“Despite the current wave of anti-abortion legislation, the fourth Democratic debate this month was the first one this election cycle in which the candidates were pressed to say how they would approach reproductive health from the Oval Office,” she stressed.

O’Connor highlighted the importance of having “diverse voices pressing candidates on issues of racism, sexism and other bigotry just as it’s important to have diverse candidates.”


Diverse, perhaps, except ideologically. Just on the topic of abortion, most of the 2020 Democrats refuse to support any restrictions on abortion, and readily oppose the Hyde Amendment, which generally prohibits the use of federal funds from going towards abortion – for now.

The moderators don’t exactly promise diversity either. Maddow alone has been awarded by Planned Parenthood for her show, has called pregnancy centers “fake abortion clinics,” and says that the situation in Missouri, which has one abortion clinic left, “feels like dystopian fiction,” and is “horror-movie disturbing.”

Both Maddow and Mitchell also asked Cecile Richards if she would consider running for office immediately after she stepped down as the president of Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider.

O’Connor wasn’t alone in her prediction.

On October 24, Bust magazine ran a piece with the headline, “The Next Democratic Debate Will Feature An All-Women Panel — Here's Why That's A Big Deal.”

“What an exciting time for us women!” exclaimed Kerry Cunningham before going into the details. “We are finally getting a panel.”


“[W]e weren’t really allowed to do that too much when there were also men on the panels for the debates: one question, maybe,” she admitted. “But a question on abortion and another on women’s access to reproductive health care? Absolutely not. That is too many.”

But that would happen this time, she guessed.

“A curious choice is to have this specific debate in Georgia, especially after the ‘heartbeat law’ that would have banned abortions as early as six weeks into a pregnancy was temporarily blocked,” she added. “After Democratic nominees ... commented on how there wasn’t enough of a discussion about women’s issues at any of the past debates, Georgia and an all-female panel were both chosen, perhaps coincidentally.”

For Forbes, Elana Lyn Gross wrote of the all-female panel that, “It is possible that women’s rights issues such as the gender pay gap, paid parental leave and reproductive healthcare will be a larger topic of conversation.”

Abortion, and the support of it, is synonymous with “women” to many in the media. It shouldn’t be. Poll after poll shows that a majority of Americans – women and men – want restrictions on abortion. Women, from Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser to March for Life President Jeanne Mancini, lead the national pro-life movement. 


That’s because abortion is anti-woman. And it affects men too: thousands of parents publicly share their stories online about how abortion has harmed them. That’s not to mention the millions of women and men missing today because their lives ended in abortion.

The moderators should bring up abortion – and the tough questions like “How would you represent pro-life Americans as president?” and “Would you support any abortion restrictions?”

They should ask about abortion. Not because they are women, but because they are human.


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