Attorney Kathy Salvi would ban the procedure with virtually no exceptions while Duckworth strongly supports abortion rights.
Duckworth told the forum why she wants to write into federal law the abortion guidelines embodied in the Roe v. Wade ruling that the Supreme Court overturned this year. It indicated that terminating a pregnancy after 24-weeks should only be done if there's a threat to the life of the pregnant woman.
Duckworth would also repeal the Hyde Amendment banning federal dollars for abortion.
"The Hyde Amendment has made military women who are victims of military sexual trauma in places like Kuwait have to fly on their own dime all the way back to Germany to access abortion," Duckworth said.
When Salvi was asked repeatedly whether she'd vote for a nationwide ban on abortion after 16 weeks proposed by several Republican senators, she deflected, saying only that she supported the Dobbs ruling that overturned Roe v. Wade.
"It's rightfully in the hands of states' elected representatives, and I am very much opposed to activist judges. I am pro-life. But, just as importantly, I am pro-woman," Salvi said.
Salvi and Duckworth also have dramatic differences on immigration policy.
Salvi called for a return to former President Donald Trump's southern border control policies, which made nearly all migrants wait in Mexico until approved to enter the U.S.
"Three million people have already crossed the border since President Biden took office. This is our humanitarian crisis. And what have we heard? Crickets, nothing!" Salvi said.
Sen. Duckworth said she favors comprehensive immigration reform that would provide additional resources to tighten border security, while providing a path to citizenship for 11 million who previously entered the U.S. in violation of immigration law.
In the absence of a comprehensive solution, Duckworth supports smaller proposals, such as her "Enlist Act," allowing certain migrants to join the U.S. military.
"After one full term of enlistment, which is about five years if they serve honorably, they get a Green Card that becomes permanent. At the end of that time, they get to go to the end of line and wait out their time and apply for citizenship like everyone else. I can't think of a better way to prove that you want to be a citizen of this great country other than to wear the uniform," Duckworth said.