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Tulsi Gabbard Bucks Democratic Field, Announces Support For Restrictions On Third Trimester Abortion

By  Emily Zanotti
Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) delivers a 20-minute campaign speech at the Des Moines Register Political Soapbox
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI), who is running for the Democratic party’s 2020 presidential nomination, told podcast host Dave Rubin Sunday that she supports restrictions on third-trimester abortions, making her the first and only Democrat in the field to oppose the barbaric practice.

Gabbard, National Review reports, told Rubin that she has a somewhat libertarian view of abortion rights — she supports a woman’s “right to choose” but only until the baby is considered viable.

“I think that there should be some restrictions though,” she told Rubin. She went on to suggest she believes in a “cutoff point” where women could get an abortion only in dire circumstances. “I think the third trimester. Unless a woman’s life or severe health consequences is at risk, then there shouldn’t be an abortion in the third trimester.”

That’s not exactly a hard line on abortion, and it certainly doesn’t appear that Gabbard supports any universal restrictions on the third-trimester abortion procedure, just that she’s currently unsure of where she stands on it. The difficulty with “life and health” exceptions, across the board, is that they can be applied liberally, and Gabbard wasn’t specific in what she feels constitutes a “dire” circumstance that might necessitate an exception.

Aside from this single issue, Gabbard is generally an abortion rights supporter. Alexandra DeSanctis analyzed Gabbard’s record and discovered a largely pro-abortion rights platform.

“Since becoming a member of Congress, Gabbard has maintained a 100-percent rating from Planned Parenthood. She supports federal funding of abortion,” DeSanctis writes at NRO.

There is some evidence that the formerly pro-life Gabbard, who has spoken at length about how her time in the military made her pro-choice, still harbors some concern for the unborn: “she did not co-sponsor a Democratic bill in the House that would repeal the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits the direct use of taxpayer funds to cover abortion procedures,” DeSanctis reports. “She also did not sponsor the Democratic ‘Women’s Health Protection Act,’ a piece of federal legislation that would override state restrictions on abortion.”

Strangely enough, Gabbard’s position, which might be considered somewhat extreme by most (if not all) pro-lifers, is downright moderate compared to the rest of the Democratic field. Some candidates, like former Texas senate challenger Beto O’Rourke, have even tied themselves in knots trying to appeal to the most extreme of the party’s abortion rights activists (Beto said in an interview last week that he believes abortion can only be restricted once a child draws its first breath).

According to National Right to Life, there isn’t a single Democrat in the field of 2020 potentials that comes close to being pro-life, and most would, as president, institute a marked expansion of abortion rights, and would support repealing the Hyde Amendment and reinstituting the Mexico City policy.

By merely supporting some restrictions on third-trimester abortion, Gabbard sets herself apart from the field. Significantly.

It’s not clear, however, how that ultimately serves Gabbard. Democratic primary voters are likely to be hardcore party activists, and progressives have made it known that they plan to turn out to the primaries in droves — a plan that imperils more “moderate” candidates like former Vice President Joe Biden in favor of die-hard progressives like Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). By staking out this territory for herself, Gabbard is all but ensuring she won’t be a long-term player in the Democratic primary, though she may win over a handful of fans from the GOP (if they can also put aside some of her stranger positions).

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