Kirsten Gillibrand Charges Democrats to "Play Offense" on Abortion Rights in Democratic Debate

Pundits have forecasted a threat to 'Roe v. Wade' due to the recent passage of several restrictive abortion laws in Georgia, Missouri and Alabama, among other states.

Senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Bernie Sanders touched on a hot topic in Hollywood at Thursday's second Democratic debate when they argued that America had to protect Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that guaranteed American women the right to choose an abortion.

When asked about women's reproductive rights, Sanders declared he would never appoint a justice that doesn't "100 percent" support Roe v. Wade. "We will do whatever we can to defend Roe v. Wade," he said. When pressed by co-moderator Rachel Maddow as to how he would preserve abortion rights if the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, Sanders responded, "Medicare for all preserves the right for a woman to have an abortion."

Pundits have forecasted a threat to Roe v. Wade due to the recent passage of several restrictive abortion laws in Georgia, Missouri and Alabama, among other states. Studios and production companies, many of which shoot projects in Georgia due to the state's friendly tax policies, have distanced themselves en masse from the recent so-called fetal heartbeat abortion bill that Gov. Brian Kemp signed into law in early May. 

Following Sanders' response, Gillibrand then also responded to the question, asserting that "Women's reproductive rights are under assault by President Trump and the Republican party. Thirty states are trying to overturn Roe v. Wade right now," she said, before calling the fact that the nominees onstage were still discussing women's right to choose "mind-boggling."

The New York senator then said, "I think we have to stop playing defense and start playing offense." Adding that compromises had been made "behind our backs," and noting her background in defending abortion and contraceptive services during the negotiations for the Affordable Care Act, she argued, "Who do you want when that door [to negotiations] closes? I have been the fiercest advocate for women's reproductive rights [and] I will guarantee women's reproductive freedom no matter what," she said.

While some production companies have outright pulled their business from Georgia due to its recently signed "fetal heartbeat" law, including the latest project by Broad City's Ilana Glazer, or pledged not to work in the state while the law was still active like Killer Films, Blown Deadline Productions, Colorforce, Duplass Brothers Productions and CounterNarrative Films, others adopted a wait-and-see policy. Netflix, Viacom, CBS, Sony, AMC, NBCUniversal and WarnerMedia all made statements denouncing the law and saying it could affect productions moving forward.

Some creators already doing business in Georgia have pledged money to organizations fighting the law, which is set to take effect in 2020. Producers Peter Chernin and Jenno Topping of the Fear Street movie filming in Georgia donated millions to the ACLU to fight the law, and producer J.J. Abrams and Jordan Peele pledged to donate their episodic fees for the first season of Lovecraft County, shooting in the state, to the ACLU and Fair Fight Georgia.

Other controversial abortion laws that are waiting to go into effect include Alabama's recently passed law, which criminalizes abortions at any stage of a pregnancy and whose only exception is when a woman's life is in danger, the strictest abortion law in the country, and laws in Missouri, Louisiana, Mississippi and Ohio.

Gillibrand and Sanders' remarks follow those of Julián Castro on the first night of NBC's Democratic debates. Answering whether abortion would be covered under his health-care plan, Castro said it would, adding, "Everyone knows that in our country today, a person's right to choose is being challenged in Georgia, Alabama and Missouri.... I would appoint judges to the bench that would support Roe v. Wade."