Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton reacts to supporters after speaking at a campaign rally at the Iowa State Historical Museum, Jan. 4, 2016, in Des Moines, Iowa.
Photo by Charlie Neibergall/AP

NARAL endorses Hillary Clinton, making up for 2008 snub

Updated

In a sign of the strength of Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, NARAL Pro-Choice America endorsed her candidacy on Tuesday.

“I am honored to earn the endorsement of NARAL Pro-Choice America PAC. As one of our country’s leading advocates for reproductive rights, NARAL’s work is more important than ever,” Clinton said in a statement on Tuesday. “I will stand with NARAL and women across the country in defending access to abortion, contraception, and sex education. I will stand with NARAL in advocating for policies that help women and families. The stakes could not be higher in this election, and I am grateful to the more than 1 million members of NARAL for their support,” she added.

The NARAL endorsement has symbolic value as well. In 2008, the organization chose to endorse then Sen. Barack Obama over Clinton in the midst of the bitter Democratic presidential primary fight. The decision to back Obama was widely viewing as shocking snub, considering Clinton’s long history of backing women’s rights causes.

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“Pro-choice Americans have been fortunate to have two strong pro-choice candidates in Senator Obama and Senator Clinton, both of whom have inspired millions of new voters to participate in this historic presidential race,” then NARAL president Nancy Keenan said at the time. “Today, we are proud to put our organization’s grass-roots and political support behind the pro-choice candidate whom we believe will secure the Democratic nomination and advance to the general election. That candidate is Senator Obama.”

According to the Associated Press, NARAL’s board threw their weight behind Obama in May of 2008 in part because he was more than likely to win the nomination at that point and their where concerns about fissures in the traditional progressive coalition between black voters and white female activists.

NARAL’s current president Ilyse Hogue stuck a different tone on Tuesday, as her organization got behind Clinton early in her race to fend of the insurgency of Sen. Bernie Sanders. “Hillary has what it takes to fight Republican attacks on women’s reproductive rights, and has the vision and experience to ensure women and families thrive,” she said in an official statement. “Decisions made in the next several years will determine how women and families fare in the United States for decades to come. We need not just a worthy ally, but a champion with a demonstrated record of fighting for reproductive freedom and economic justice. Hillary Clinton is that champion.”

Clinton has repeatedly advocated for a woman’s right to choose this campaign cycle amid heated rhetoric directed at organizations like Planned Parenthood. She did say last fall that she would favor some kind of constitutional restrictions” on later term abortions if they took a mother’s health into account. But she has also criticized Republican 2016 candidate Sen. Marco Rubio for opposing abortion exceptions for the victims of rape and incest. In November of last year she advocated revisiting laws restricting foreign aid for abortion access to women abroad in war-torn countries, who are often raped as a form of terrorism. 

“I am pro-choice and I am because I have over many years thought that it’s best to leave this very difficult decision to an individual woman, her faith, her family, her physician,” she said.

Hillary Clinton and Reproductive Rights

NARAL endorses Hillary Clinton, making up for 2008 snub

Updated