In a recent interview with Dave Rubin, Hawaii congresswoman and Democratic presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard expressed opposition to some late-term abortions. She stated that “there shouldn’t be an abortion in the third trimester” but did say she believes there should be exemptions if a woman’s life is threatened or at severe health risk. This makes her the first Democratic presidential candidate to support any kind of legal limit on abortion.
Her willingness to publicly oppose late-term abortion could have some important ramifications. While Gabbard failed to meet the polling threshold to qualify for Thursday’s presidential debate, she hasn’t ended her campaign. She has 130,000 unique donors, and her Twitter account has over 550,000 followers. It’s likely that other Democratic candidates will use future debates to object to Gabbard’s opposition to late-term abortions, focusing public attention on the fact that the other Democrats running for president support third-trimester abortions — a position that remains deeply unpopular with the American public.
Even so, while it is heartening to see Gabbard challenge her party’s orthodoxy, she still offers little comfort to pro-life voters. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), only 1.3 percent of abortions each year take place after 21 weeks gestation. If Gabbard wants to effectively appeal to pro-life Democrats, she should support the Hyde Amendment, which limits the ability of federal taxpayer dollars to fund elective abortions through Medicaid. My Lozier Institute study from 2016 illustrates that the Hyde Amendment stops 60,000 abortions every year, and even analyses published by groups that support legal abortion acknowledge that the Hyde Amendment reduces the incidence of abortion.
Moving forward, Gabbard will doubtless face a great deal of opposition for favoring any restriction of abortion late in pregnancy, especially as many Democratic politicians have doubled down recently in their support for allowing late-term abortions. At an event at the College of Charleston, for instance, former Texas congressman and Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke indicated that he thinks abortion should be a legal option even the day before a baby is born.
This presents an opportunity for Gabbard to distinguish herself from the field by offering moderates and pro-life voters something more. If she began to favor the Hyde Amendment, she would further differentiate herself and, more important, show support for a popular policy that saves tens of thousands of unborn children every year.