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Abortion Largely Missing from Second Round of Debates While NRA Ruthlessly Attacked

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of
Timothy Tai/Columbia Daily Tribune via AP, File

Beyond a few comments, talk of abortion was mostly absent from both nights of the second round of Democratic debates. This went noticed by pro-abortion groups like Planned Parenthood, which decried how “voters missed an opportunity to hear how Democratic candidates will approach a fundamental issue that impacts their lives,” lumping, as they’re prone to do, abortion with healthcare. The omission was also noticed by National Review’s Alexandra DeSanctis, who pointed out that Democratic candidates and their media allies usually refer to abortion in euphemastic language. 


On both nights, the issue was raised by the candidates rather than the moderators, who ignored the issue completely. On night one, Mayor Pete Buttigieg stoked fear in his opening statement by mentioning how “by 2030…  a woman’s right to choose may not even exist.” The next night, Senator Kamala Harris went after front-runner Joe Biden for his previous support for the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits taxpayer dollars from funding most abortions, which he quickly flip-flopped on. Harris even got the Hyde Amendment wrong, claiming that Biden’s support for it amounted to him “withhold[ing] resources to poor women to have access to reproductive healthcare and including women who were the victims of rape and incest.” The Hyde Amendment makes exceptions for rape and incest. 

What did come up was talk about gun control and the National Rifle Association. Here is a sampling from night one:

  • Governor John Hickenlooper, who also brought up the NRA in his opening statement mentioned how “we decided that we were going to go out and take on the NRA, and we passed as a purple state.” 
  • Senator Amy Klobuchar had much to say, in several of her turns to speak. She claimed the president “meets with the NRA and he folds,” and that the issue is “about the NRA.” Klobuchar soon after went on to promise she would “take them on” as president, and mentioned that “what is broken is a political system that allows the NRA and other large big money to come in and make things not happen.” 
  • Governor Steve Bullock not only agreed that “it is the NRA,” but went on to attack “dark money” and bragged about “kicking the Koch brothers out of Montana,” a point he was all too happy to emphasize.
  • Senator Bernie Sanders touted his D- record from the NRA, and was quite passionate about “what I believe we have got to do is have the guts to finally take on the NRA.”

In a sense, Senator Klobuchar is right, that it is about the NRA. The NRA has been tirelessly looking out for the Constitutional right to bear arms, clearly stated in the Second Amendment, as well as those who exercise that right. 

Gone, however, was any talk not only of abortion, but of the largest abortion business in the nation, Planned Parenthood. And yet one could very well apply the criticisms Democrats have for the NRA to Planned Parenthood. 

Planned Parenthood, unlike the NRA, is taxpayer funded, to the tune of $563.8 million, an increase from the previous year. There was also $630.8 million in private donations, which means Planned Parenthood was able to earn $244.8 in excess revenue over spending, or profit. 

Americans may disagree with the NRA, on its aims, on its tactics, on its gun-rights agenda, just as Americans may disagree with Planned Parenthood’s focus on abortion. Yet the stark difference with the former is Americans aren’t forced to send their hard-earned dollars to an organization they disagree so strongly with. Planned Parenthood has also been accused of Medicaid fraud. And, there is video evidence Planned Parenthood has circumvented state and federal laws. 

Planned Parenthood likes to tout how taxpayer dollars are not permitted to fund most abortions, all while still speaking out against the Hyde Amendment. What taxpayer funding they do receive, however, frees up money that much more for abortions, because money is fungible. 


Despite the funding, not only have abortions increased, but services such as contraception and cancer screenings have continued to decrease.

We’re all too used to hearing about how the NRA is responsible for the death of children lost to gun violence. Yet those same people and organizations won’t call out Planned Parenthood for the 332,757 abortions listed in Planned Parenthood’s own 2017-2018 annual report, the most recent available. The number is an increase from the previous annual report. Planned Parenthood hasn’t met an abortion it didn’t like, no matter for what reason, or when it was performed. It’s no surprise that Planned Parenthood fights for abortion for any reason, throughout all 9 months of pregnancy, and opposes virtually any and all abortion regulations or restrictions. This view is largely out of step with the American people, who want to see abortion limited to within the first three months of pregnancy. But again, such is not a popular point for Democratic candidates to acknowledge, nevermind debate. 

Planned Parenthood isn’t about healthcare, it’s about abortion. Those skeptical need look no further than to how last month the organization ousted its president, Dr. Leana Wen, for not being committed enough to the politics of opposing abortion. 

If our current society where Planned Parenthood is funded with over half a billion dollars in taxpayer funding isn’t a “broken system” with “big money” involved, there’s no telling what is.


Unsurprisingly, the debate moderators did not take issue with the candidates attacking the NRA, or Senator Harris’ falsehoods about the Hyde Amendment. It’s unlikely to expect future debate moderators to bring up these points about either organization. It does not mean we should stand idly by when falsehoods are repeated and spread. Hopefully the American people educate themselves not only on the NRA, but on abortion and Planned Parenthood, even if these debates won’t help them do so. 

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