2020 Democratic presidential contender and Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard said she opposes third-trimester abortions during a conversation Sunday with Dave Rubin on his YouTube talk show “The Rubin Report.”
Rubin asked Gabbard about her stance on abortion, taking a particular interest in the pro-choice congresswoman’s perspective since she used to be pro-life, while Rubin has inversely evolved in his beliefs.
“How did you evolve on this?” Rubin asked.
“Really just in understanding the role of government,” Gabbard replied, describing her position as “more libertarian.”
“Government really shouldn’t be in that place of dictating to a woman the choice that she should make.” Gabbard continued, “I think that there should be some restrictions, though.”
The presidential candidate said she would not personally choose to abort, but said, “I don’t believe that I should be telling anybody else the kinds of decisions that they should make for themselves or for their family. … A woman should have the right to choose.”
Rubin cut her off, asking whether the congresswoman has “a cut-off point for that.”
“I think the third trimester, unless a woman’s life or severe health consequences is at risk, then there shouldn’t be an abortion in the third trimester.”
Gabbard’s posture against late-term abortions places her at odds with the most of the remaining contenders in the crowded Democratic presidential primary field, many of whom support codifying the implications of Roe v. Wade into law and repealing the Hyde Amendment, which bars taxpayer funding for abortions.
At a Pennsylvania campaign stop in March, former Texas representative Beto O’Rourke was asked whether he supports third-trimester abortions, to which he responded, “Absolutely.” Author Marianne Williamson describes herself as “100 percent pro-choice.” Sen. Kamala Harris referred to state “heartbeat bills” as “dangerous attacks” on women’s rights.
Dangerous attacks on women’s constitutional right to an abortion are outrageous no matter what party you’re in. My message to the Gov. of Louisiana: women have agency, women have value, women have authority to make decisions about their own lives—and we will not go backward. https://t.co/oi7vgy90ej
— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) May 30, 2019
During last week’s CNN climate change town hall, Sen. Bernie Sanders supported abortion as a means to control population growth in light of the “climate crisis,” citing women’s “right to control their own bodies.”
Also last week, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, another 2020 Democrat, said he believes life doesn’t begin until a baby takes his or her first breath.
Gabbard’s opposition to third-trimester abortions may affect former vice president and 2020 front-runner Joe Biden most directly, as it makes her the de facto party moderate on abortion.
In his 2007 book “Promises to Keep” Biden described himself as “middle of the road” on abortion and the mainstream media and Democratic party have painted him as the so-called moderate candidate and most likely to beat President Trump in a general election. Yet he has proven to be just the opposite, flip-flopping on the Hyde Amendment and moving further and further left on abortion since his time in the Senate. His Hyde flip occurred in keeping with his health care plan, which, he revealed at a Planned Parenthood forum, would include coverage for abortion.
With 29.7 percent support, according to a RealClearPolitics aggregate of polls, while Biden is the front-runner and may be liberal enough to win a primary election, his new abortion views could cost him the presidency in the general election. According to a May 2018 Gallup poll, more people identify as pro-life than pro-choice, and 77 percent of respondents thought abortion for an unwanted pregnancy should be illegal in the third trimester. A YouGov/Americans United for Life poll revealed similar sentiments, with 80 percent of Americans opposing abortion the day before a child’s birth and 79 percent opposing third-trimester abortions generally.
“Americans overwhelmingly reject the Democratic Party’s extreme agenda of abortion on demand through birth and even beyond,” said Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser in a press release, referencing a 2019 SBA abortion poll. “Three in four voters agree babies born alive during a failed abortion should be protected in law, and nearly two-thirds oppose efforts to allow late-term abortion even at the moment of delivery.”
While the libertarian argument doesn’t hold up for abortion and Gabbard’s views still place her firmly in the pro-choice camp, her favorable view of third-trimester restrictions could give her a better chance of beating President Trump in the general election were she the Democratic nominee.
Polling at only 1.7 percent, however, Gabbard is trailing eight other Democrats and will not be participating in the Sept. 12 debate. To qualify for the October debate, Gabbard will need to garner 2 percent support in four qualifying polls by Oct. 1 as well as 130,000 unique donors including at least 400 donors apiece from 20 different states.
“I disagree with Hillary Clinton on a ton of things,” Gabbard said, “but she said that abortion should be ‘safe, legal, and rare,’ that’s something that I agree with.”