No Compromise On Choice, Bernie- Stay Out Of Women’s Convention!

This is our message to Senator Bernard Sanders. Either promise to only support pro- choice candidates, or stay out of our Women’s Convention.

This is only decent, especially given his stance on economic inequality. Anti-choice harms black and other women of color in terms of the most extreme disproportion. Overwhelming data supports this fact. The racial politics of abortion are expressed nobly by Dawn Porter in her film series on the subject. Perhaps if Bernie had watched it, he would not have endorsed Heath Mello last year.

You want equality for all, and yet you’re willing to compromise on an issue proven to harshly affect some of the most at-risk groups of people in the nation? These attempts by Bernie and his defenders to find an excuse for his support of anti-choice Mello (and his abhorrent legislation) in Omaha is appalling, and comes off as desperate.

The fact is, there is not a single person of prominence among the Sanders camp addressing or answering the fact of Bernie openly stating it’s okay to endorse and support anti- choice candidates. None of his supporters, no one from his camp and no one organizing the convention.

Instead of addressing the situation honestly, his supporters are rampaging in comment threads all across the Internet, seeking out pro-Bernie arguments rather than objective information on the issue. It is this mentality that has led to anti-choice legislation mills passing laws that harm women and disproportionately impact communities of color. 

Groups of Bernie supporters like the Justice Democrats and the Brand New Congress have taken the unfair and stupid position that real Democrats are corrupt somehow because we value our ability to work with different kinds of people and see value in the great institutions of this country, including great financial institutions such as Wall St.

They have been busy creating a rigorous purity standard to be applied to any politician still in office, and compromising with anyone who doesn’t pass it is enough to make you fail too- except when it comes to abortion rights.

Last week, the House of Representatives passed a bill that would prevent women from obtaining an abortion beyond the arbitrary marker of 20 weeks of pregnancy. Under the “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act,” medical providers who perform an abortion at or after 20 weeks of pregnancy could face a fine, up to five years in prison, or both.

This bill could result in Black women losing access to abortion services during the most desperate of circumstances. 

According to an analysis of a national sample of young women obtaining abortions in 2008, black women, uneducated women, and women who experienced either unemployment or separation from a partner were more likely than others to have a later-term abortion.

Without access to late-term abortions, black women are often forced to carry unwanted pregnancies to term. This tends to be a bad scenario for everyone involved, woman and child and state. It can lead to economic insecurity and poor mental health outcomes for themselves and their families. None of this, however, meant a thing to Heath Mello, Bernie’s choice in the special election for mayor of Omaha, Nebraska, .

Imani Gandy at Rewire gave us the damning list. Mello sponsored a 20-week term limit on abortion in 2010. He voted in favor of eliminating abortion coverage from insurance plans in Nebraska. He voted to ban telemedicine abortion care, which makes abortion less accessible to poor and rural women. For all his good service, Mello was proudly endorsed by Nebraska’s Right to Life in 2010. 

The organizers of Women’s March have infuriated women worldwide with this invitation. Even their apology on the matter was tone deaf. In their latest response, they seemed to apologize for having given a man a place of such prominence in their event. Off the mark completely. It’s Bernie’s weak record on women’s rights and his rape fantasies that we object to, not the mere fact of his gender.

Hillary Clinton recently discussed the culture of sexual assault, following media coverage of a plethora of new lurid complaints against Hollywood film producer and longtime Democratic donor, Harvey Weinstein.

In an interview with the U.K.’s Channel 4 News on Saturday, Clinton said:

“Look, we just elected someone who admitted sexual assault to the presidency. So there’s a lot of other issues that are swirling around these kinds of behaviors that need to be addressed,” Clinton said when asked if she had heard rumors of Weinstein’s behavior before the bombshell reports.

“I think it’s important that we stay focused, and shine a bright spotlight, and try to get people to understand how damaging this is,” she continued. That last bit applies to Bernie just as well as Trump.

Remember those last set of debates last summer? Both presidential contenders were fiery, and passionate, which was only to be expected in what was a highly focused and driven primary. But Sanders was out and out rude. Rather than taking the opportunity to renounce the extremities of misogyny committed by his supporters, his performance gave weight to the concern Paul Krugman expressed back then: “Bernie is becoming a Bernie Bro.”

During the debate, Sanders interrupted Clinton again and again, at one point even throwing out a long “excuuuuse me” while wagging his finger. When not interrupting, he sat there smirking and making faces while Clinton spoke. At one point, he was seen muttering a sarcastic “OK.”

He laughed out loud as she prepared to answer a question on gun control legislation after Sandy Hook. What on Earth is funny about Sandy Hook?

This wasn’t the first time the Sanders campaign showed signs of sexist overtones. Jeff Weaver, Bernie’s head campaign manager, angered many when he complained that Clinton’s “ambition” could tear the Democratic Party apart.

Bernie himself (besides not being a Democrat) was trying to start a revolution. He was also running for President. These are ambitious things to do. The double standard was ludicrous, and typical of sexist relationship dynamics.

Shortly thereafter, in the awful acrimony that was the last month of the primary season, the term “Democratic whores” was used at a campaign rally. Bernie isn’t impervious to valid criticism. But he acted so sure of himself that he didn’t stop to realize how dismissive he came off. He never seems to consider the implications of his rhetoric. There’s always some excuse, like the cheap attempt at red-state pragmatism he tried explaining Mello away with.

If we don’t find a way to make this sink in, then the rape culture that produced Harvey Weinstein and Donald Trump will just keep on keeping on.

Therefore we want to emphasize a specific focus for this piece. We are stressing to event speakers, in the strongest possible terms, the necessity of boycotting this event, if Bernie will not once and for all renounce anti-abortion candidates. He, of all people, ought to appreciate the need for strategic inflexibility on core issues.

This is a core issue for us. We’re not going to compromise on it, and we’re not going to associate with anyone who will. Bernie Sanders must publicly state, with unmistakeable intent, that he will endorse in the future only those candidates with an ironclad respect for the reproductive rights of women. Anyone who will not agree to do that is no friend to our cause. If Senator Sanders wishes to correct the record, we’re all ears. Until then, Bernie, leave our convention alone.

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