Underwood, Gryder spar over abortion and other issues in online candidate forum
As states throughout the country move to limit legal abortions after the U.S. Supreme Court's undoing of the landmark Roe v. Wade decision, the candidates for Illinois' 14th Congressional District couldn't be much further apart on the issue.
During a joint forum Wednesday night, Republican candidate Scott Gryder of Oswego noted the Supreme Court's ruling this summer settles the issue. He also blasted incumbent Democrat Lauren Underwood's support of abortion rights as "extreme."
Underwood, a Naperville resident seeking a third term in the U.S. House, called the recent Supreme Court decision "a tragedy" and said women should have "unrestricted access" to a range of reproductive services. She insisted women, not men like Gryder, should be the ones making the decisions for themselves.
Underwood also criticized Gryder for previously saying he would support a federal abortion ban if elected.
In addition to abortion, Underwood and Gryder discussed racial justice, voting rights, the economy and other issues during the hourlong forum sponsored by three League of Women Voters groups serving the 14th District and moderated by league member Carol Tidwell.
As with abortion, the candidates found themselves on opposite sides of the debate over federal student loan forgiveness. Underwood supported the relief effort, while Gryder called it an unfair tax on people who don't have such debts.
"It just doesn't make sense," Gryder said.
The candidates also differed when asked what they would do to promote social and racial justice.
Underwood decried the rise in hate crimes against Asian Americans and transgender Americans, and she said the U.S. suffers from systemic racism. She said voting rights need to be strengthened and touted legislation she sponsored that was designed to boost Black maternal health.
Gryder said the solution to social and racial inequality is economic and suggested streamlining business regulations that could serve as barriers for entrepreneurs. He criticized processing fees on small businesses, too.
Gryder, who leads the Kendall County Board, spoke of the bipartisan support he's personally received from members of the board and a history of crafting proposals that have received backing from Democratic and Republican members.
Conversely, Underwood painted Gryder as a politician in lockstep with the Republican Party. She chastised him for calling the fairness of President Joe Biden's win in 2020 "debatable" and for calling warnings about humanity's impact on climate change "overblown" during a Daily Herald interview earlier this year.
Redrawn ahead of the 2022 election, the 14th District encompasses parts of Kane, Will, DeKalb, Kendall, LaSalle, Bureau and Putnam counties. Election Day is Nov. 8.