Bernie Sanders is in trouble with major reproductive rights group NARAL Pro-Choice America after campaigning for an anti-choice Democrat, Heath Mello.
This isn't the first time Sanders' dedication to reproductive rights has been called into question. It happened during his 2016 campaign as well, when Sanders called Planned Parenthood part of "the establishment," a move that belied a disappointing lack of dedication to abortion rights and respect for reproductive rights advocacy. Abortion, turns out, is just not Sanders' issue, and when it shows, it's in embarrassing ways—like casually campaigning for someone who's advocated to force women to undergo ultrasounds before having an abortion.
What's particularly frustrating about all of this is that abortion is very much an economic issue. Sanders should care about it through that lens alone. It's an economic issue, because stigmatizing abortion and segmenting it away from other types of healthcare has had the effect of making it less accessible to low-income women. It's an economic issue because raising a child is costly. It's an economic issue because the Hyde Amendment, which bans Medicaid funds from covering abortion, specifically targets poor women, and affects their ability to afford and access the procedure, and thus maintain economic stability and freedom. It's an economic issue because when women have to cross state lines to access care, that costs money too. It's an economic issue because there's a stark divide between wealthy women, who face fewer barriers to abortion, and poor women, who are often the ones disproportionately impacted by anti-choice policies.
The truth is that limiting abortion access is just another way of reinforcing economic inequality. And Bernie Sanders, of all people, should understand this. But he must not, because the man who campaigned on issues of economic inequality is apparently willing to let go of those values where poor women are concerned.
And that's unfortunate, because we're currently a nation led by an assaulter in chief. This is not an appropriate time to get wishy-washy when it comes to women's rights. Leaders who claim progressive politics and campaign on them should also live by them—and not just when it's politically expedient.