Pete Buttigieg is getting criticized for what some see as tepid support for abortion rights, even though he’s stated his pro-choice position on other occasions.
Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Ind., and the only openly gay candidate among more than 20 Democratic presidential hopefuls, discussed the issue in a Thursday appearance at the City Club of Chicago.
In a video clip tweeted by The Hill, he said, “This is not an easy choice for anybody to face, and I would be loath to tell anybody facing that situation what the right thing to do is, but that’s exactly the point. I’m a government official. I don’t view myself as belonging in that conversation.”
Some who responded to the tweet thought Buttigieg was trying to avoid taking a position.
But others thought he was saying simply that the government shouldn’t be involved in the decision whether or not to end a pregnancy.
A longer clip, posted on C-SPAN (see here), shows Buttigieg prefacing the remark by saying, “I don’t think that you are free in this country if your reproductive health can be criminalized by the government.” He also condemned the law enacted by Alabama this week that bans almost all abortions and provides for a prison sentence of up to 99 years for doctors who perform them. The idea that a doctor providing an abortion could get a longer jail term than a rapist who impregnated someone suggests “the discussion on freedom in this country has gone off the rails.”
On the issues page of his campaign website, Buttigieg states support for abortion rights and repeal of the Hyde Amendment, which prevents Medicaid or other federal funds from being used to pay for the procedure. He also sent a tweet Wednesday endorsing the right to safe and legal abortion and denouncing the Alabama law.
He has been a bit more equivocal on the issue than some Democratic candidates. Sens. Elizabeth Warren, Kirsten Gillibrand, and Cory Booker have said they’d propose a law that would codify Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion nationwide, so that states could not adopt laws like Alabama’s.
During his Chicago appearance, Buttigieg said he’d consider the idea but stopped short of endorsing it.
“I think that’s something that deserves to be taken seriously,” he said, according to The Hill. “I haven’t seen the full range of ideas on how to do that. … Some people think it has to be in the Constitution itself as a right to privacy, for example. Obviously, that could be achieved legislatively, but with those rights under assault, I think the full range of responses needs to be contemplated because we can’t just keep having this play out one Supreme Court [appointment] at a time.”