Marco Rubio's anti-choice nightmare: How he could bring back one of Ronald Reagan's most odious policies

Rubio looks to turn back the clock on international women's reproductive health

Published July 10, 2015 6:32PM (EDT)

  (AP/Alan Diaz)
(AP/Alan Diaz)

Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio on Friday compared the anti-choice movement to the movement to free slaves and gain women's suffrage, vowing to fight against abortion rights "at home and around the world."

In a speech to the National Right to Life Committee today, captured by Right Wing Watch, the freshman Florida Senator criticized Roe v. Wade and promised to fight to outlaw abortions in the U.S. and abroad. Rubio referenced a “historically and egregiously flawed Supreme Court decision" to argue that the U.S. condones the "taking of innocent life":

In a world where life is increasingly not valued, where people are summarily discarded, America must always stand for the belief that all life is worthy of protection because all life come from God. Our nation has strayed from this purpose. Our government, ever since a historically and egregiously flawed Supreme Court decision, has condone the taking of innocent life and has done so on a massive scale.

Rubio argued that "particularly under our current President, America has declined to stand on the side of life around the world." Rubio pledged to the anti-choice activists to be a president "who values and prioritizes life," vowing to "bring advocacy to the White House" and to "advance the cause of life at home and around the world."

Rubio's commitment to fight abortion access "around the world" is an indication that he'll attempt to reverse current U.S. policy on international funding for women's reproductive health. Shortly taking office in 2009, President Obama signed an executive action overturning the controversial "Mexico City Policy," a Reagan-era policy that prohibited international organizations that receive federal funding from performing or promoting abortions with non-US government funds. As it stands now, federal law prohibits only the direct funding of  abortion as a method of family planning but international groups may still receive U.S. funding even if they use other funds to provide abortions.

This comes as a coalition of religious and human rights leaders call on the U.S. to fund abortion for rape victims in conflict areas as international terror groups Boko Haram and ISIL enslave and rape thousands of women and girls.

Rubio not only vowed to return U.S. policy on international reproductive health to the Bush era but he also went on to compare the anti-choice movement with other historic American movements for social change -- specifically the battles for abolition, civil rights and women’s suffrage:

Sometimes in contemporary American life, we come to believe that all the great causes are over, that the past generation fought all the important battles: abolition, the Civil Rights Movement, women’s suffrage. But it’s not true. In fact, one of the most important battles is the one that you are engaged in now.

Rubio argued that the fight to end abortion access is fundamental part of American exceptionalism:

It is fundamentally impossible for America to reach her destiny as a nation founded on the equal rights of all if our government believes an entire segment of the human population doesn’t have a right to exist.

Watch a segment of his speech via Right Wing Watch:

By Sophia Tesfaye

Sophia Tesfaye is Salon's senior editor for news and politics, and resides in Washington, D.C. You can find her on Twitter at @SophiaTesfaye.

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