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'Dithering' Over Medication Abortion Latest Evidence to Progressives of Buttigieg Reversing Previously-Held Position

"Those who have difficulty accessing medical care, including abortion care, are more likely to be impacted by these policies. This includes women of color, young people, folks in rural communities, and those with low incomes."

Democratic presidential candidate South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg speaks during the Democratic presidential primary debate at Loyola Marymount University on December 19, 2019 in Los Angeles, California.

Democratic presidential candidate South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg speaks during the Democratic presidential primary debate at Loyola Marymount University on December 19, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg's stance on medication abortion in an interview with Vice had reproductive rights advocates up in arms over the weekend, with some progressives pointing to past statements indicating the presidential hopeful has changed his tune. 

Buttigieg, whose relative rise in national presidential polling has brought with it outsized media attention and scrutiny, told Vice's Marie Solis in a statement that the use of medication abortion needs "research into the pros and cons and unintended consequences of its use in the context of the United States."

The mayor's campaign did not say if Buttigieg endorses or opposes use of the medication, but that he supported the "spirit of the policy suggestion."

That's a mistake, reproductive rights expert Dr. Jamila Perritt said in an interview with ReWire News Friday.

"As a physician I know that when we allow medical care to be dictated by politicians, my patients suffer," said Perritt. "Moreover, those who have difficulty accessing medical care, including abortion care, are more likely to be impacted by these policies. This includes women of color, young people, folks in rural communities, and those with low incomes."

In a tweet Sunday, Vice reporter Solis said that her article makes clear that the mayor's position is inconsistent with the evidence.

"Buttigieg's stance ignores loads of research that shows medication abortion is safe and effective," said Solis, "even when the drugs are administered outside of a traditional clinic setting."

The mayor's stance also appears to contradict a tweet from his own account just seven months ago. 

On May 9, 2019 Buttigieg tweeted in reference to notoriously harsh Georgia abortion restrictions that, "A woman has enough to deal with when it comes to her health care without also having to worry about male politicians telling her what she ought to do with her body."

Referring to the mayor's recent statements, activist Jordan Uhl on Sunday wondered if the real enemy was right in front of Buttigieg the whole time. 

"I found one of those male politicians you were worried about," said Uhl.

Other progressives expressed discomfort with the mayor's language. 

"Well, this horrifying," advocacy group Democracy for America said on Twitter, "we've now got a Democratic presidential candidate dithering on making it easier for folks to gain access to medication abortion care."

In the Vice survey, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), one of Buttigieg's most fierce rivals for the 2020 Democratic nomination, said that access to medication abortion should be over-the-counter. It was a response that earned the senator the praise of ReWire News editor Jodi Jacobson.

"The right answer is the one give by Elizabeth Warren," said Jacobson. "We do not need 'more study' because more study won't tell us more than what we already know. Medication abortion is safe and should be made widely available. Laws and policies that criminalize medication abortion need to be eliminated, not studied."

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