The first Democratic presidential debate of the election season is upon us, and I'm...already exhausted!
The debate -- which pitted 10 different 2020 hopefuls against one another, including Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, and former Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke -- finally kicked off a rousing debate about health care, whether to expand access, and which people in the United States deserve what standard of care.
That micro-debate about health care, which saw Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii arguing that no one should be denied life-saving treatment just because they can't afford it, transitioned into a micro-micro-debate about what each candidate's health care plan would look like and whether it would cover abortion. Former Sec. of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro came out forcefully in favor of covering abortion for anybody who needs them. He even made efforts to explicitly center trans people in his discussion of "reproductive justice," albeit with a few rhetorical stumbles.
"A person's right to choose is under assault," said Castro, notably using gender-neutral language. "I don't just believe in reproductive freedom. I believe in reproductive justice. And what that means is just because a woman -- or, let's not also forget someone in the trans community, a trans female -- is poor, doesn't mean they shouldn't have the right to exercise that right to choose. So, I absolutely would cover the right to have an abortion."
Castro's comments about expanding abortion access and health care for trans people comes at a time when the government is trying to limit access to both. Not only have states like Missouri and Alabama passed legislation restricting abortion services, but the Trump administration has finalized two rules that would gut federal health care protections for trans people and let providers and insurers deny coverage for transition care, abortion, and sterilization on moral or religious grounds.