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Women's Rights Advocates Call On Democratic Candidates to Address Healthcare and Equity Issues Affecting Women in 2020 Debates

UltraViolet previously helped convince the Democratic Party to include female moderators in the primary debates

A woman holds a sign at the 2017 Women's March in Chicago. (Photo: Jonathan Eyler-Werve/Flickr/cc)

A month after helping to pressure the Democratic National Committee to include female moderators at every Democratic primary debate, the national women's advocacy group UltraViolet called on candidates to address a number of issues affecting women.

The group surveyed its roughly one million members in recent days, asking them what questions they would ask the 23 Democratic hopefuls if they were running the debates, which are scheduled to begin June 26.

Nearly a third of UltraViolet members said candidates should state whether they would repeal the Hyde Amendment, the 1976 provision which cuts of access to abortion care for many low-income women by prohibiting the use of federal funds like Medicaid to pay for the procedure. Many of the candidates have called for the law's repeal, with eight backing legislation in the Senate and House to do away with it. Joe Biden was forced to announce that he no longer supports the Hyde Amendment earlier this month, after pressure from women's rights advocates. Forty-five percent of Democratic voters oppose the law, while 38 percent support it.

"It is critical that all candidates are asked about, and have answers to key issues impacting women. UltraViolet Action's more than one million members want answers." —Shaunna Thomas, UltraVioletMore than a quarter of respondents wanted candidates to detail how they would combat sexual violence in the U.S. while 23 percent wanted them to address police violence toward women of color.

Twenty-one percent said candidates should be asked how they will work to ensure pay equity in the United States.

So-called "women's issues," UltraViolet executive director Shaunna Thomas said in a statement, are too often addressed only by female candidates.

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Six women are running for the Democratic nomination while 17 men are running.

"All of the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates, including the male candidates, should answer important questions about ending the Hyde Amendment, addressing sexual violence, combating police violence against black and brown women, and their plans to end the pay gap for women," Thomas said in a statement.

UltraViolet's call comes amid recent attacks on women's reproductive rights, with states including Alabama, Georgia, and Ohio passing extreme anti-choice laws outlawing abortion care after six weeks of pregnancy—or altogether.

Some women's rights advocates have called on pro-choice men to speak out against the attacks instead of leaving the work of fighting for fundamental rights solely to women.

"It is critical that all candidates are asked about, and have answers to key issues impacting women," Thomas said. "UltraViolet Action's more than one million members want answers."

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