Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) said on Wednesday that if he were elected president in 2020, he would create a White House Office of Reproductive Freedom to ensure access to safe, legal abortion.
The presidential candidate told Cosmopolitan magazine that the recent attacks on abortion rights are what spurred him to create the idea for an executive-run office. The office would deal with several issues surrounding reproductive freedom, including abortion, birth control, family planning, infertility, and maternal and infant mortality.
“The White House Office of Reproductive Freedom would be coordinating amongst agencies and activists and groups to try to make sure that we restore and reaffirm a woman’s reproductive rights,” Booker told Cosmo, adding that both abortion care and birth control should be treated as health care issues.
“We don’t talk about infertility enough and understand that there are things that should be covered by insurance to help with infertility that are not,” he continued. “We don’t talk enough about maternal mortality, infant mortality. So this office will be dealing with reproductive freedom in the largest sense of the understanding.”
In the last six months, states including Georgia, Ohio and Missouri have all banned abortion as early as the first trimester. Alabama passed the strictest abortion bill in the country in May, banning the procedure in nearly all cases, including rape and incest. The only exception is if the life of the pregnant woman is at risk. Earlier this year, Texas lawmakers considered the death penalty for any woman who gets an abortion.
Booker first floated the idea for an Office of Reproductive Freedom in May in an essay published on Medium. He also spoke about defending abortion rights during the most recent presidential debate earlier this month.
“First of all, let’s be clear about these laws we see from Alabama to Ohio,” the New Jersey senator said during the debate. “They’re not just attacks on one of the most sacrosanct ideals in our country — liberty, the ability to control your own body — but they are particularly another example of people trying to punish, trying to penalize, trying to criminalize poverty.”
Booker told Cosmo that he will fight for abortion rights whether he’s elected president or not.
“Men should not be taking a back seat on this. They should be leading on this along with women,” he said. “I cannot sit here as a man, as a black man, enjoying the rights other people fought for without understanding that I can never pay them back, but I’m going to pay it forward by fighting to make sure we get to a day in America where everyone is free and everyone can enjoy the abundance that comes with a nation that honors liberty and dignity.”
CORRECTION: This story has been corrected to note that Booker first publicly mentioned an Office of Reproductive Freedom in an essay for Medium, not in the most recent presidential debate.
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