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Hillary Clinton was the first and only candidate to bring up Planned Parenthood during Tuesday night's Democratic presidential debate.

While the absence of reproductive health from the agenda was, well, baffling given the current political climate, the timing and placement of Clinton's reference was kind of huge.

The moment came after Clinton gave a remarkably simple—and strong—answer to a question about how paid family leave was supposed to work in the United States. After shooting down critics of the policy with straightforward data on how it's already working, Clinton pivoted slightly:

“When people say that, it’s always the Republicans or their sympathizers who say you can't have paid leave, you can't provide health care. They don't mind having big government to interfere with a woman's right to choose and try to take down Planned Parenthood,” she said. “They're fine with big government when it comes to that. I'm sick of it. We can do these things. We should not be paralyzed by the Republicans and their constant refrain, ‘big government this, big government that’ except for what they want to impose on the American people."


Clinton has made full-throated defenses of Planned Parenthood before. What stood out this time was how Clinton, even if she was just seizing an opportunity to strike a blow against her Republican opponents, still connected Planned Parenthood and its core services—offering birth control, abortion, well-woman exams—to a conversation about what families need to get by. At a moment when House Republicans are trying to strip the organization of its federal funding, and Republican presidential candidates can't get their basic facts straight about abortion, dropping the issue of access to basic health care in the same breath as a call for universal paid leave was a welcome dose of reality.