HomeLearning CenterHillary Clinton Has Some Tough Words for Democrats, and for Women

Hillary Clinton Has Some Tough Words for Democrats, and for Women

Originally published by Lisa Lerer and Elizabeth Dias for The New York Times

Hillary Clinton criticized her fellow Democrats over what she described as a decades-in-the-making failure to protect abortion rights, saying in her first extended interview about the fall of Roe v. Wade that her party underestimated the growing strength of anti-abortion forces until many Democrats were improbably “taken by surprise” by the landmark Dobbs decision in 2022.

In wide-ranging and unusually frank comments, Mrs. Clinton said Democrats had spent decades in a state of denial that a right enshrined in American life for generations could fall — that faith in the courts and legal precedent had made politicians, voters and officials unable to see clearly how the anti-abortion movement was chipping away at abortion rights, restricting access to the procedure and transforming the Supreme Court, until it was too late.

“We didn’t take it seriously, and we didn’t understand the threat,” Mrs. Clinton said. “Most Democrats, most Americans, did not realize we are in an existential struggle for the future of this country.”

She said: “We could have done more to fight.”

Mrs. Clinton’s comments came in an interview conducted in late February for a forthcoming book, “The Fall of Roe: The Rise of a New America.”

The interview represented Mrs. Clinton’s most detailed comments on abortion rights since the Supreme Court decision that led to the procedure becoming criminalized or restricted in 21 states. She said not only that her party was complacent but also that if she had been in the Senate at the time she would have worked harder to block confirmation of Trump-appointed justices.

And in a blunt reflection about the role sexism played in her 2016 presidential campaign, she said women were the voters who abandoned her in the final days because she was not “perfect.” Overhanging the interview was the understanding that had she won the White House, Roe most likely would have remained a bedrock feature of American life. She assigned blame for the fall of Roe broadly but pointedly, and notably spared herself from the critique.

Back to News