When asked by MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough if the Democrats could “be open to candidates that may not be rigidly pro-choice, may not be rigidly pro-gun control?”, Vermont senator Bernie Sanders said “Yes.”

The self-styled messiah of the proletariat, Sanders, who ran on a progressive platform during the 2016 election, seems to be ignoring the concerns of the very people he claims to represent. In a populist attempt to pander to the white-working class voter base, Sanders is going back on key issues that organizations like NOW have been fighting for years.

Understandably, many are looking to find a leader in these times of party upheaval and based on his campaign, Sanders seemed to be a shoo-in. However, in light of this and Sanders’ gradual aversion to what he calls “identity politics”, we need to question whether he is yet another politician who will use women’s rights as a bargaining chip to gain political currency with those who have repeatedly demonstrated how little they care for gender equality.

Senator Sanders, if you are not rigidly pro-choice then you are pro-poverty. The number of low-income women and women of color who have abortions are disproportionately high. Do the math. Denying them access to basic healthcare will only exacerbate their existing conditions, often leading them to stay on in undesirable situations of domestic violence and emotional abuse.

As we fight tooth and nail against the government’s overreach into our reproductive rights, we need voices who will unequivocally fight for us, without thinking of us as merely an alternative vote bank. We need to keep our representatives on their toes, sending them the message that reneging on their word is not acceptable. Our liberty will not be sacrificed at the altar of political expediency.

Being pro-choice is not a matter of debate. We resist. We persist.

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