In October, RH Reality Check developed a questionnaire for the Democratic and Republican presidential candidates, designed to help our readers compare the various contenders' positions on sexual and reproductive health and rights — beyond the sole issue of abortion. Our questions were designed to get under the surface of the candidates' rhetoric on reproductive rights and clarify how far each one was willing to go to support concrete policy changes to back up his or her stated beliefs. Sen. Hillary Clinton's campaign staff answers Andrea Lynch's questions below.
Why do you consider Sen. Clinton to be the strongest candidate on reproductive health and rights?
When it comes to each woman's ability to make the most personal of life decisions, Hillary Clinton is a leader. She has stood firm as an advocate for a woman's right to choose and has worked to expand access to family planning services. As First Lady, she went to Beijing and declared that "human rights are women's rights and women's rights are human rights," and as Senator, she has consistently stood up for women's reproductive health and rights.
Throughout her time in the Senate, she has consistently spoken out against relentless efforts by the right wing to rollback women's access to the full range of reproductive health care services. She opposed the nominations of Justices Alito and Roberts, declaring that they represented the gravest threat to Roe v. Wade in history, and she condemned the Supreme Court's April 2007 decision to allow the government to dictate to women what they can and cannot do about their own health.
Senator Clinton has supported every pro-choice bill introduced and voted on since she came into the Senate. She opposed the so-called "partial birth abortion" bill; the Unborn Victims of Violence Act, which was designed to define a fetus as a person in order to lay the groundwork for overturning Roe v. Wade; the Child Custody Protection Act, which would have made it a crime to accompany young woman across state lines for abortion care; and the Child Interstate Abortion Notification Act, which would impose a new, complex, national patchwork of parental notice mandates on doctors and young women. She has also co-sponsored legislation to repeal the global gag rule imposed by President Bush, which has resulted in the closure of multiple health clinics in the developing world, reductions in the number of community health workers providing outreach in rural areas, and contraceptive shortages in the countries most in need of family planning services.
Senator Clinton has been a strong leader in advancing women's health and well-being. As First Lady, she helped found the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, which has helped achieve a one-third reduction in teen pregnancy between 1996 and 2005. Working with Senator Patty Murray, she helped lead a three-year effort to make "Plan B" emergency contraception,also known as the "morning after" pill, available over the counter. She also sponsored the Prevention First Act, which expands access to family planning services for low-income women, requires health insurance companies to cover contraception, and provides a dedicated funding stream for age-appropriate, medically accurate, comprehensive sex education. Senator Clinton introduced the Compassionate Assistance for Rape Emergencies (CARE) Act, which would ensure that survivors of sexual assault and rape receive necessary medical care, including emergency contraception such as Plan B, and the Compassionate Care for Servicewomen Act, which would ensure that servicewomen have access to Plan B at military health care facilities. She also co-sponsored legislation to establish an Emergency Contraception Public Education Campaign through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
She has also supported legislation to restore access to privately funded abortion services for U.S. servicewomen and military dependents in overseas military health facilities; lift the ban on international non-governmental organizations that provide to women information on family planning services; prohibit violent protestors, such as anti-abortion activists, from escaping court-ordered fines or judgments by filing for bankruptcy protection; and prohibit funding for federal employee health plans that refuse to provide contraceptive coverage.
In short, Senator Clinton has fought for women's rights for her entire career. She has been a leader on reproductive health care issues in the Senate, and she will remain committed to them when she is President.
What sets Sen. Clinton's platform apart from the other contenders on issues of reproductive health and rights?
Senator Clinton has been a consistent advocate for women's reproductive health and rights, and she will carry this commitment to the White House as a leader on behalf of all women. When she is President, she will nominate Supreme Court Justices and other federal court judges who believe that the Constitution protects a woman's right to privacy. Senator Clinton knows that reproductive health care is an important part of any woman's overall health, which is why she will ensure that reproductive health care will be part of her plan to provide health care to every single American. As a part of her plan to fight cancer, Senator Clinton has committed to increasing access to screening tools and she has said she will fully fund the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program. When she is President, she will continue to strongly support increased funding for Medicaid and Title X, which provide federal funding for family planning and reproductive health care services. She will also work to sign into law the Prevention First Act, which provides federal funding for comprehensive, medically accurate sex education; provides for equitable coverage of contraception among private plans; and expands access to information about emergency contraception. Senator Clinton has been a leading advocate for women throughout her life, and her policy proposals and platform reflect that dedication.
How does Sen. Clinton's health care plan specifically address sexual and reproductive health, family planning, pregnancy, HIV/AIDS, and other STDs?
Senator Clinton's health care plan provides guaranteed, affordable, high-quality health care for every single American. It allows those who like their current plans to keep them and provides a new menu of quality health insurance options, including a public plan modeled after Medicare, for those who are dissatisfied with their coverage or don't have any. This Health Choices Menu would include the high-quality plans offered to Members of Congress through the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program. Her health care plan will ensure that all Americans living with HIV/AIDS have access to care and will end insurance discrimination against those with pre-existing conditions, such as HIV/AIDS. Senator Clinton's plan to fight HIV/AIDS includes doubling the HIV/AIDS research budget within the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to $5.2 billion annually, including the U.S. contribution toward finding a vaccine. To address the disproportionate burden of HIV/AIDS on minority communities, Senator Clinton will increase funding for the Minority AIDS Initiative and support the prevention and treatment efforts of minority-run community based organizations. Her plan also increases federal funding for substance abuse treatment. She has also committed to providing at least $50 billion over five years to combat HIV/AIDS around the world. This commitment will establish the United States as a leader in galvanizing the global community around meeting the Millennium Development Goal of halting and beginning to reverse the spread of HIV and other diseases by 2015. She will lead the world in achieving universal access to treatment by doubling the number of people that the United States supports with treatment. The Clinton plan will increase the number of healthworkers in training or in place in Africa by at least one million over a decade and ensure access to medications for all.
Does Sen. Clinton support comprehensive sexuality education? Does she believe that the federal government should continue to fund abstinence-only-until marriage programs, despite evidence that they are ineffective at preventing unintended pregnancy and STDs?
Senator Clinton introduced legislation to provide federal funding for comprehensive, medically accurate, age-appropriate sex education. She believes that abstinence-only programs have not been shown to be effective, and, as President, she would support programs that send a strong message to young people that they should delay sexual activity while giving them the information they need to make responsible decisions and protect themselves.
Does Sen. Clinton support adolescents' access to confidential family planning and reproductive health services, without having to seek permission from their parents? Why or why not?
Yes. Senator Clinton supports access to confidential health care for all Americans. She believes families should be involved in any life decision involving their daughter, but recognizes that in some cases, that type of involvement is neither healthy nor appropriate.
Does Sen. Clinton believe that contraception should be covered by private insurance plans and under insurance plans for federal employees? Why or why not?
Senator Clinton has been a strong supporter of the Equity in Prescription Insurance and Contraceptive Coverage Act, which would require private health plans to cover FDA-approved prescription contraceptives and related medical services to the same extent that they cover prescription drugs and other outpatient medical services. This bill seeks to establish parity for prescription contraception. She has also co-sponsored legislation to prohibit funding for federal employee health plans that refuse to provide contraceptive coverage. And she cosponsored the Prevention Through Affordable Access Act to correct a provision included in the Deficit Reduction Act of 2006 that cuts off every college and university health clinic and hundreds of safety net providers from being able to offer affordable contraceptives to students and lower income women.
Does Sen. Clinton agree with the FDA's decision to make emergency contraception over the counter for people 18 and over? Does she think adolescents should be able to access emergency contraception over the counter as well? Why or why not?
Senator Clinton led a three-year fight to pressure the FDA to make a decision on Barr Pharmaceutical's application to sell Plan B over the counter, and she was pleased when the decision was made to approve the application, in line with the overwhelming consensus of the research community that the drug was safe and effective for over the counter use and the recommendation of every major health care organization. At the time of the decision, she urged
the FDA to revisit placing age restrictions on the sale of Plan B, and still believes that it is the path we ought to take. She agrees with the American Academy of Pediatrics' recommendation that emergency contraception is safe and effective, can help to prevent unintended pregnancy among teenagers, and should not be confused with mifepristone.
Does Sen. Clinton support any restrictions on abortion, or does she believe it should be entirely up to women?
Senator Clinton believes abortion should be safe, legal, and rare. She has worked throughout her career to accomplish that goal by working to reduce the teen pregnancy rate and providing greater access to family planning. She strongly opposed the so-called "partial birth abortion" bill when it was considered by the Senate. She supported an alternative bill that, consistent with Roe v. Wade, would have prohibited post-viability abortions except when, in the medical judgment of an attending physician, abortion is necessary to preserve the life or health of the woman.
Does Sen. Clinton support the Hyde amendment? Under what circumstances does she believe that Medicaid should cover abortions (all pregnancies, life- or health- threatening pregnancies, pregnancies that are a result of rape or incest, extreme fetal malformation)?
No. Senator Clinton does not support the Hyde amendment. She believes low-income women should have access to the full range of reproductive health care services.
Does Sen. Clinton believe adolescents should have the right to choose abortion, or should they be required to seek their parents' consent? Why or why not? Are there any circumstances that might make a compelling case for waiving the parental consent requirement?
Senator Clinton believes families should be involved in any life decision involving their daughter, but recognizes that in some cases that type of involvement is neither healthy nor appropriate. She does not believe the federal government can dictate healthy families. That is why she supports New York State law that does not require parental consent for minors. In states where that is not attainable, she supports judicial bypass provisions.
Does Sen. Clinton support continuing federal funding for crisis pregnancy centers? Why or why not?
No. She does not support federal funding for programs that misrepresent facts in order to further a political agenda.
If elected president, what specific measures would Sen. Clinton support for women who choose to become mothers (prenatal care, maternity leave, childcare, healthcare for children)?
Ensuring guaranteed, affordable, high-quality health care for all Americans will be Senator Clinton's top domestic priority. She was instrumental in creating the Children's Health Insurance Program, which provides health care for six million children today, and she has fought for 15 years to expand access to quality care. Her health care plan will provide access to critical services like prenatal care. She has put forth a bold plan to provide paid leave for new parents and caregivers by 2016, expand the Family and Medical Leave Act to include 13 million new workers, and end pregnancy discrimination. She is also the lead sponsor of legislation to ensure equal pay for women. (Please visit here and here for more information about Senator Clinton's plans.)
Does Sen. Clinton believe that gay and lesbian couples should be able to adopt children?
If elected president, would Sen. Clinton overturn the Global Gag Rule or reinstate funding for UNFPA?
Yes. Overturning the Global Gag Rule and reinstating funding for UNFPA would be among her highest priorities. Senator Clinton has said overturning the gag rule would be one of her first acts as President.
See Sen. Barack Obama's and former Sen. John Edward's answers to the same questionnaire. Despite repeated attempts, the GOP candidates have yet to respond to our questions, but we did some research for them. Check out all of our Election 2008 Coverage!