Because Reproductive Rights Shouldn’t Be Up for Debate

We are all witnessing the restrictions sweeping the nation to roll back decades of progress in reproductive rights and move to ban access to abortion in states across the country. This year alone, there have been at least 250 bills restricting abortion introduced in 41 state legislatures.

Yet, we also know that a majority of Americans support protecting access to abortion. Recent polling shows that more than seven in 10 Americans believe abortion should remain legal.

Something just doesn’t add up. For too long, a very vocal minority have controlled the conversation on reproductive health care and forced people to feel like they have to compromise on an issue that affects more than half the population.

The truth is when reproductive rights are under attack, lives are on the line. Access to care is already unfairly limited by where someone lives or how much money they make. Restrictions to reproductive health care hit low-income people—especially poor women, young people, LGBTQ people and people of color—the hardest.

That is why I am proud, as the Political Director of the Democratic Attorneys General Association, to announce that the committee will now only endorse candidates who support the right to access abortion and publicly commit to protecting reproductive rights, beginning with the 2020 cycle.

(Yvette Wohn / Creative Commons)

The new candidate requirement is the first-of-its-kind for any Democratic campaign committee—reinforcing the commitment of the organization, and its Democratic Attorney General leadership, to protecting reproductive health care for all people, not just the privileged few. But this reproductive rights protection candidate requirement isn’t the first time DAGA has led with values.

In 2017, DAGA launched a Women’s Initiative to elect more women to the office of state Attorney General, with a goal of electing women to half of the state Attorney General seats held by Democrats. In 2018, DAGA helped flip four seats blue and elect the most diverse coalition of Democratic AGs in history. All four of the states that flipped blue were campaigns like that of now Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford, who ran on protecting reproductive rights—and won.

The job of a good Attorney General is to protect our most vulnerable communities and protect our fundamental rights. The job of this committee is to elect good AGs. And now, we are committed to adding AGs to the team that will stand with us and the majority of Americans in protecting access to abortion. We will add pro-choice Democratic AGs to the team—not just in “blue” states, but in states all over the country.

DAGA co-chair and Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum noted that “as the battle for reproductive rights unfolds at the ballot box, in statehouses and courtrooms across this country, there is no group of elected officials better positioned to lead the fight for our rights than state Attorneys General.”

She’s right. Together, Democratic Attorneys General are using every legal tool available to protect reproductive rights. As a committee, we are standing on the right side of history. This committee is doing our part to ensure our leaders are committed to protecting your reproductive rights. We are refusing to sit on the sidelines while dangerous attacks on our fundamental freedoms continue to cascade across the country.

Just three years ago, DAGA was a limited, part-time committee based out of Denver, CO—and Democratic AGs weren’t on the radar in the broader policy and political conversation. Today, DAGA is a record-breaking, full-time committee, and Democratic AGs are front and center in the current political landscape.

Here at DAGA, we know that Democratic AGs are the backbone of the party and often move on to other offices such as Governor, U.S. Senator, and even President of the United States. As New York State Attorney General Letitia James tells us in this video: “If [candidates] stand with us, they stand with you.” That’s why it’s time to think bigger and better, and have the courage to say that our Democratic big tent only works if reproductive freedoms are protected.

Reproductive rights are a matter of fundamental equality, and they cannot be up for debate.


Farah Melendez is the Political Director at the Democratic Attorneys General Association.