WASHINGTON — Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, praised a progressive activist who told him that she is “shameless” about the abortion she had at 22 years old.
“One in four women will have an abortion in America. I am one of those women. I am 27 years old. I had my abortion when I was 22, about five years ago. I can sit here and tell you today, yesterday and back then that I am 110 percent shameless with my choice. I did what was best for me and what was right for me and I did it and I took action when action needed to be had,” a Planned Parenthood activist told Sanders at the “We the People Membership Summit” on Monday. “But today in my hometown of Nashville, Tenn., where I’ve lived for about 23 years, a woman has to wait 48 hours after her initial appointment to get an abortion.”
The activist mentioned that the Tennessee House of Representatives passed a bill recently that would ban abortion after the fetal heartbeat is detected.
“Most of us don’t even know we are pregnant within that time frame,” she said, before asking Sanders about limiting the amount of time Supreme Court justices can serve and increasing the number of justices.
In response, Sanders said, “First of all, thank you very much for your courage. OK, it’s not easy coming up here and saying what you did and as a strong supporter of Planned Parenthood, I want to applaud the grassroots activism of Planned Parenthood.”
Sanders said he understands the “division” in the U.S. on abortion but criticized the Republican Party’s position on the issue.
“What I don’t accept is the hypocrisy of my Republican colleagues who day after day say, ‘you know what? We are conservative. We want to get the government off of the backs of the American people. We want a limited government. Let the American people do what they want — get government off their backs,’ except when it comes to the right of a woman to control her own body. Now, that is absolute hypocrisy,” he said. “I will do everything I can and there’s a lot a president can do to make sure that decision of whether or not one has an abortion is the decision of the woman — not the federal government, not the state government or the local government.”
Sanders said he is hesitant to support expanding the number of justices because the Republicans could do “the same thing” the next time they are in power.
“So I think that is not the ultimate solution,” he said. “What I do think may make sense is, if not term limits, then rotating judges to the appeals court as well — letting them get out of the Supreme Court and bringing in new blood.”