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In the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s June decision overturning Roe v. Wade, protecting abortion rights has become a central ― and often emotional ― theme of Democratic primary elections.
And Dan Goldman, a former federal prosecutor and candidate in New York’s new 10th Congressional District, just learned that the hard way.Advertisement
Goldman, who led congressional Democrats’ 2019 impeachment of then-President Donald Trump, provoked outrage on Tuesday for an exchange he had about abortion rights with the Orthodox Jewish news outlet Hamodia. (Hamodia’s readership overlaps with the portion of voters in New York’s 10th who live in the ultra-Orthodox Jewish enclave of Borough Park.)
Asked whether he supports restrictions on abortion rights of any kind, Goldman said he “would not object” to a state barring the procedure after the point of fetal viability, which is usually 24 to 28 weeks into the pregnancy. He made it clear that he would only support such a law if it included exceptions for certain cases, such as when the health of the mother is at risk.
“The health of the mother is always an exception,” he said.
In the transcript of the interview that Hamodia published, the interviewer, Reuvain Borchardt, noted that after providing that response, Goldman consulted privately with an aide. Following the consultation, he changed his answer to clarify that he supported abortion rights without any restrictions, including after the point of fetal viability.
Goldman then implied that his opposition to abortion after viability was a personal view rather than one he would endorse becoming law.Advertisement
“I believe that a woman’s right to choose is a woman’s individual decision,” he said, “and that, frankly, a reason why I believe so strongly in the right to choose is because I don’t think anyone’s beliefs, religious or otherwise, should overrule a woman’s decision about her own health care.”
By some measures, Goldman’s initial answer was not that out of the ordinary. Even before the 1973 Roe decision was struck down, states were free to restrict abortion after the point of fetal viability.
Currently, just six states allow abortion after fetal viability. New York is among the liberal states that do not allow it unless there is a medical risk to the mother or the fetus.
But many progressives are not satisfied with the status quo in New York, arguing that gestational limits fail to account for, among other things, the obstacles that motivate a very small fraction of women to seek abortions later in pregnancy.
“There are people who need an abortion after viability,” Elizabeth Nash, a state policy analyst for the Guttmacher Institute, a pro-choice policy think tank, told HuffPost. “The law shouldn’t interfere with medical practice or medical care. That’s what abortion restrictions do.”Advertisement
Medical exceptions that states offer “end up being too limiting” to accommodate people who need abortions at that late stage, Nash added.
Goldman apologized for his initial remarks in a statement after the article came out on Tuesday.
“I misspoke in an interview yesterday, and, as I subsequently clarified later in the interview, the decision to have an abortion is a healthcare decision that needs to be made between a woman and her doctor. Period.”- Dan Goldman, Democratic congressional candidate
“I misspoke in an interview yesterday, and, as I subsequently clarified later in the interview, the decision to have an abortion is a healthcare decision that needs to be made between a woman and her doctor. Period,” he said. “I unequivocally support a woman’s right to choose. There is no room for government involvement at any point in time, for any reason.”
That was not enough to stave off a wave of criticism.
Rival candidates in New York’s 10th District, which encompasses lower Manhattan and a cluster of mostly affluent, liberal neighborhoods in Brooklyn, pounced on Goldman’s interview exchange as an opportunity to contrast themselves favorably.
“By supporting extreme ‘viability’ abortion bans, Dan Goldman has told New Yorkers that if he succeeds in buying this congressional seat, he will not be an ally in the fight to protect abortion rights,” Rep. Mondaire Jones (D-N.Y.) said in a statement.Advertisement
New York Assemblywoman Yuh-Line Niou (D) suggested that it spoke to Goldman’s ignorance as a man incapable of becoming pregnant.
“I do not need an aide to tell me that more than half the country is suffering one of the worst human rights catastrophes of our lifetime because lawyers like Goldman think they can tell us what to do with our bodies,” Niou said in a statement. “And we do not need more arrogant men running for office in the midst of this crisis ― who clearly don’t know or care enough about it to get their story straight ― just because they think they deserve it.”
New York City Councilwoman Carlina Rivera (D), who helped found one of the country’s first municipal funds to assist women traveling to other states to obtain abortions, also seized on the remarks as “disqualifying.”
“There are candidates in this race, including myself, who don’t triangulate on issues of fundamental rights and don’t have to confer with an aide to know where we stand on abortion: we’ve been fighting for it from day one and have a record to prove it,” she said in a statement.
New York Assemblywoman Jo Anne Simon tweeted that Goldman’s comments were “abhorrent,” adding that a “[D]emocrat who won’t defend the right to an abortion is no better than Justice [Clarence] Thomas or [Samuel] Alito.”Advertisement
Elizabeth Holtzman, a former prosecutor and lawmaker, who was first elected to Congress a year before the Roe decision enshrining abortion rights, went a step further in her criticism. She called on Goldman to drop out of the race.
“It’s bad enough for the Supreme Court to tell us we can’t control our bodies and now we have Dan Goldman joining in,” she tweeted. “Congress has enough lukewarm Democrats who won’t fight like hell to codify #RoeVWade into federal law.”
Even Maud Maron, a centrist candidate running as a critic of left-wing ideology, panned Goldman’s handling of the interview. Unlike her rivals though, she seized on his decision to walk back his stance against post-viability abortion, rather than stand by his initial remarks.
“Unfortunately for the voters in NY-10, Dan Goldman has shown ― by walking back his initial comments ― that he not only has bad judgment but will cower to the ideological extremes when under pressure,” she said in a statement. “I will not.”
Goldman is one of 12 candidates vying for the Democratic nomination in the Aug. 23 primary.
A recent poll showed him in a competitive third place with 12% support.
Goldman is second only to Jones in fundraising, having brought in over $1.2 million as of the end of June. With independent wealth, however, he has not ruled out supplementing his campaign funds with his own money.Advertisement
In an interview with HuffPost in July, Goldman argued that the Biden administration should be acting more aggressively to safeguard abortion rights. He proposed using the Veterans Affairs hospital system to perform abortions for people in states that have prohibited the practice.
“We have to attack this on multiple fronts,” he said.
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Senior Politics Reporter, HuffPost
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