Julian Castro, who served as former President Barack Obama’s secretary of housing and urban development, took a step to the left during Wednesday night’s Democratic primary debate, when he was asked about abortion.
Standing in line with nine of his presidential competitors, Castro, who served as mayor of San Antonio from 2009 until 2014, announced his health-care plan would provide federal funding for abortions, including for those in the transgender community — a demographic he specifically singled out.
The 44-year-old politician argued it’s important to provide taxpayer-funded abortion access to transgender women, who, since being biologically male, are incapable of bearing children. Presumably, Castro intended to say transgender men, who are biologically female but have transitioned.
“I don’t believe only in reproductive freedom, I believe in reproductive justice,” Castro said. “And what that means is just because a woman, or let’s also not forget someone in the trans community, a trans female, is poor, doesn’t mean they shouldn’t exercise that right to choose.”
“I absolutely would cover that right to have an abortion,” he added.
The former secretary made the comments after being asked by NBC moderator Lester Holt: “All of you on stage support a women’s right to abortion. You all support some version of a government health-care option. Would your plan cover abortion, Mr. Secretary?”
Like all of his progressive adversaries on the NBC debate stage Wednesday night, Castro argued access to abortion in the U.S. is “under assault,” noting states like Alabama, Missouri and Georgia, each of which have passed pro-life laws this year.
If elected, Castro vowed to apply a litmus test to his judicial nominees. He promised to select judges who “understand the precedent of Roe v. Wade and will respect it.”
“And in addition to that,” he concluded, “make sure that we fight hard as we transition our health care system to one where everybody can get and exercise that right.”