Mayor Pete Buttigieg drew wild cheers during a town hall appearance Wednesday at the NARAL Pro-Choice America town hall in Des Moines, Iowa.
“I’m a mayor, and I’m a veteran, I’m a feminist, and I’m here to talk about rights,” he said after taking the stage and introducing himself.
Buttigieg warned that a woman’s right to an abortion could be “outlawed” in just a few years and urged activists to fight to defeat President Donald Trump.
“This really is about our values,” he said.
Buttigieg spoke about campaigning and governing in South Bend Indiana, in a red state where people held strong views on abortion.
He warned of the “acceleration of a radical agenda” that would try to restrict women’s access to abortions, calling everyone to speak up to oppose any restrictions on abortion.
“I believe it is vital that Democrats be vocal in standing up for women and that men running for president being twice as vocal about this issue in this time,” he said as the audience applauded.
Buttigieg criticized the Trump administration for forcing abortion providers like Planned Parenthood out of the Title X federal funding program.
“They’re so busy attacking Planned Parenthood, I like to know what they think of unplanned parenthood because there’s going to be a lot more of that if they keep this up,” he said.
He again hit Vice President Mike Pence, asking that they not judge the state of Indiana by their former governor.
“I’ll make you deal, you don’t judge Indiana by the VP, we won’t judge Iowa by Steve King,” he chuckled as the crowd cheered.
He promised to insure access to comprehensive care, including “safe and legal” abortions.
Describing abortion as an “American right” he said he would work to repeal the Hyde Amendment that prevents federal funds being used to fund abortions.
He shared a story of how he banned a pro-life crisis pregnancy center by vetoing an attempt to allow them to operate in a residential location, despite his decision being unpopular.
He comforted one woman who spoke openly to Buttiigeg about her abortion, thanking providers for making it as “smooth process.”
“I made the right choice for me,” she said, weeping as she criticized her parents and her community for “abortion stigma.”
“Abortion stigma is becoming increasingly dangerous,” she said.
The mayor thanked the woman for sharing her story, explaining that it would help others understand the struggles women who had abortions had.
“I’m convinced that virtually all of the social evils that we are which is looking at another person that is something other than another person,” he said.
Buttigieg shared his own story of coming out openly as a homosexual as the mayor of South Bend and getting married to his husband Chasten.
“Compassion, in my understanding of my Christian faith, is the beating heart of what it teaches us to do,” he said.