Democratic primary contender Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) is trying to outdo his competitors on the abortion rights front, announcing Wednesday that, in the off chance he actually gets elected president, he will add an “office of reproductive freedom” to the White House.
Politico reports that Booker’s plan involves a team of White House aides tasked with “coordinating reproductive health issues across all federal agencies, including access to abortion, paid leave, maternal health care and education for employees in his administration.”
The “reproductive freedom” team wouldn’t be constrained by typical rules and regulations regarding the Executive Branch, and Booker would use their advice to issue a series of executive orders, bypassing Congress to institute a sweeping abortion access plan.
In addition, Booker announced that he plans, once in office, to reverse two major restrictions the United States has demanded on foreign and domestic aid for decades. Booker would repeal the Mexico City policy, which keeps U.S. funds from subsidizing United Nations population control projects that necessarily involve abortion, and he would roll back the Hyde Amendment, which protects taxpayers from directly funding abortion services through grants to abortion providers.
Booker claims he would nominate only judges who could pledge to uphold abortion rights in court, though most judges who would admit such a thing in a confirmation hearing would be forced to recuse themselves from assessing any pending legislation.
He also vowed to “codify Roe v. Wade into Federal law” and reinstate the Obamacare contraception mandate, forcing even religious employers to provide birth control free of charge to employees.
“Republican-controlled state legislatures across the country are mounting a coordinated attack on abortion access and reproductive rights,” Booker said in a statement announcing the plan. “A coordinated attack requires a coordinated response. That’s why on day one of my presidency, I will immediately and decisively take executive action to respond to these relentless efforts to erode Americans’ rights to control their own bodies. I will also pursue a legislative response, including legislation to codify Roe v. Wade into federal law.”
Although most Democratic presidential contenders have expressed support for abortion this past week, Booker is the first to make abortion a primary part of his platform, to the degree that it represents the most comprehensive policy his campaign has authored to date. But Booker seems to believe that abortion is his ticket to the Democratic presidential nomination, and he’s used a series of abortion laws, signed last week, as a way to inject himself more fully into the Democratic contest.
But Booker’s (ironically named, in this case) “Hail Mary” pass, is probably coming far too late to save his shot at the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination. A recent series of polls put his unfavorability at an astounding negative 7 points. Booker hasn’t cracked 5 points in any national poll and is mired at around 3% in polls across the board — and that’s the best case scenario. At least one poll has him under 1%.
In early primary states like Iowa and New Hampshire, everyone from former Vice President Joe Biden to South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg is eating Booker’s lunch.
Much to Booker’s chagrin, his comprehensive abortion plan does not seem to have deterred select states from instituting strict abortion bans. In addition to Alabama and Georgia, who passed legislation all but banning the practice last week, Missouri and Louisiana are expected to follow suit.