Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton participates in a Fox News Democratic Town Hall with host Brett Baier on March 7 in Detroit.
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March 8, 2016 11:29 AM EST

The Democratic presidential candidates were finally asked about abortion at a town hall hosted by Fox News on Monday—a question whose absence from previous debates had angered many activists, prompting the hashtag #AskAboutAbortion.

Seven Democratic debates had passed without a question about abortion, the Washington Post reported.

“Can you name a single circumstance at any point in a pregnancy in which you would be OK with abortion being illegal?” Fox moderator Bret Baier asked Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.

Baier later posed the same question to Hillary Clinton. “Do you think a child should have any legal rights or protections before its born?” he said. “Or do you think there should not be any restrictions on any abortions at any stage in a pregnancy?”

Many on social media had wondered about the absence of abortion questions, given its recent relevance in the news. In November, a gunman targeted a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado, leaving three people dead. Last week, the Supreme Court temporarily blocked the enforcement of a Louisiana law that would have restricted access to abortions in the state, and the high court is also considering a separate case about a Texas law.

Sanders posted on Twitter on Monday about how long it had taken for the question to come up at a Democratic debate, noting that it was conservative outlet Fox that asked the first question.

The two candidates, both of whom support abortion rights, had alluded to the topic in previous debates. Clinton touted her endorsement from Planned Parenthood and argued that women should be able to make their own health care decisions. Sanders described it as a woman’s personal choice and criticized Republicans who “want the government to make that choice for every woman in America.”

At the Republican debate in Detroit on Thursday, the lack of questions about the water crisis plaguing Flint, Mich., had also agitated some viewers, but Baier posed one question on the subject to Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, asking how Republicans plan to solve such problems.

Rubio called it a “systemic breakdown at every level of government” but said he disagreed with people who were “politicizing” the issue.

Write to Katie Reilly at

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