Yesterday’s vice-presidential debate covered lots of ground, and in the very end it even looped around to a topic too often absent from the national stage: abortion rights. During a question about balancing faith and politics, Mike Pence began attacking Hillary Clinton’s admirable record on reproductive justice. In response, Tim Kaine stood boldly in defense of her staunch support of a woman’s right to choose:
So let’s talk about abortion and choice. Let’s talk about them. We support Roe v. Wade. We support the constitutional right of American women to consult their own conscience, their own supportive partner, their own minister, but then make their own decision about pregnancy. That’s something we trust American women to do that.
And we don’t think that women should be punished, as Donald Trump said they should, for making the decision to have an abortion.
Governor Pence wants to repeal Roe v. Wade. He said he wants to put it on the ash heap of history. And we have some young people in the audience who weren’t even born when Roe was decided. This is pretty important. Before Roe v. Wade, states could pass criminal laws to do just that, to punish women if they made the choice to terminate a pregnancy.
I think you should live your moral values. But the last thing, the very last thing that government should do is have laws that would punish women who make reproductive choices. And that is the fundamental difference between a Clinton-Kaine ticket and a Trump-Pence ticket that wants to punish women who make that choice.
Thank you, Tim Kaine, for saying what needed to be said. Thank you for standing up to someone with extreme views on abortion — and who has worked extensively to put those views into place as policies in his state. Thank you for standing up to someone who has fought to defund Planned Parenthood, punish women who miscarry, and outlaw critical abortion care that saves women’s lives.
Tim Kaine reminded us, in this moment last night, why this election matters — and why Hillary’s commitment to women’s issues and improving women’s lives is so necessary to the future of this country.