Vice President Joe Biden’s debate with Republican rival Paul Ryan will be dominated by questions about abortion and contraception if the American Civil Liberties Union’s attempts to pressure the debate moderator succeed.
“[N]o topic needs to be discussed more than where the candidates stand on women’s access to reproductive healthcare,” the ACLU writes in an email to supporters. “Tell Martha Raddatz, the debate moderator, to make sure a woman’s right to make her own personal and private decisions isn’t ignored when Joe Biden and Paul Ryan debate.”
The hook for the ACLU is that the topic did not come up during the first debate between President Obama and Mitt Romney. “This happened even though the war on women and its consequences have had devastating consequences for millions of women all across America,” the ACLU says, before demanding Raddatz ensure that “access to abortion and contraception aren’t ignored in the Vice Presidential debate.”
If Raddatz yields to pressure from the ACLU, it wouldn’t be the first time in this presidential election that a debate moderator has decided to put the spotlight on abortion and contraception.
“Governor Romney, do you believe that states have the right to ban contraception? Or is that trumped by a constitutional right to privacy?” ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, a former Clinton aide, asked during a Republican primary debate.
“George, I don’t know whether a state has a right to ban contraception,” Romney replied. “No state wants to. I mean, the idea of you putting forward things that states might want to do that no state wants to do and asking me whether they could do it or not is a kind of silly thing.” Under further pressure, Romney added “Contraception — it’s working just fine. Just leave it alone.”
Stephanopoulos’ focus on contraception was surprising enough that liberal comedian Stephen Colbert picked on him for bringing it up.
“Why were you talking about contraception so much? Don’t get me wrong, any guy sitting next to Diane Sawyer that long at least thinks about it, but why did you make it part of the debate?” Colbert cracked.