Presidential hopeful Beto O’Rourke, once labeled as the Democratic Party’s ‘rising star,’ rolled out an extensive campaign plan focused on women’s rights. The plan, devoid of reality, seems like a last-ditch effort to breathe life into Beto’s flatlining presidential run ahead of the fourth primary debate.
Beto's newfound political vision is focused solely on multiple ‘women’s issues,’ including equal pay, parental leave and abortion. Beto says that the contents of his plan are long overdue, per Salon:
"It's long past time that we level the playing field and fully address the inequalities women still face in America today," O'Rourke told Salon. "We must continue to call out the barriers and inequalities women encounter every day, champion women in opportunities for advancement, and defend women against targeted violence and discrimination."
At the center of Beto’s plan is abortion. Primarily, the presidential hopeful vows to repeal the Hyde Amendment, promising that American taxpayers will fund abortions at home. Outside our borders, O’Rourke committed to reversing what he calls the "gag rule" implemented by the Trump Administration, which prohibits federal aid dollars from funding abortions abroad. In addition, he promised to instruct the FDA to remove any and all labels that create barriers to medication-based abortions.
The presidential hopeful’s promise to repeal the Hyde Amendment is not unique within the field of Democratic primary contenders. Former Vice President Joe Biden has changed his stance on the legislation several times, but the rest of the field is consistently against the measure.
Once an extremely bipartisan piece of legislation, embraced with open arms by both parties, the Hyde Amendment is nothing more than a protection for taxpayers, ensuring that the money they give to the federal government does not play a hand in funding abortions.
Recently, the Hyde Amendment has been labeled as a barrier to entry for obtaining abortions for women of color; this new narrative is, at least partially, why many mainstream Democrats who once supported the measure are now suddenly against it.
Women of color are a strong voting bloc, and will be crucial to the eventual nominee’s success. In reality, the Hyde Amendment is still vastly popular by the overwhelming majority of Americans, and embracing the repeal will only hurt their chances of gaining Independent voters.
O’Rourke also includes a ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution, ensuring no discrimination based on sex. His Paycheck Fairness Act would close the ‘gender pay gap,’ and hold employers accountable to prove that pay gaps are related to the job, not the gender of the employee.
His "Pregnant Workers Fairness Act" would demand reasonable accommodations for expectant mothers in the workplace. O’Rourke also promises to work with Congress to pass up to 12 weeks parental leave mandated by the federal government.
Beto’s plan, filled with vague talking points and not much real substance, is his appeal to earn the votes of female Democratic voters. In a primary field filled with experienced women and former Vice President Joe Biden, and with the Iowa Caucus on the horizon, O’Rourke needs to distinguish himself within the field.