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Biden marks Roe anniversary with new protections for abortion

President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris are commemorating the 51st anniversary of Roe v. Wade, kicking off what will be a year-long campaign to put abortion and reproductive health rights at the forefront in 2024. That includes the White House announcing new steps to strengthen protections and access to contraception, abortion medication, and emergency abortions at hospitals, facing Donald Trump and his packed Supreme Court head on.

It also includes blasting out this 60-second ad featuring Dr. Austin Dennard, an OB/GYN and a mother of three, who fled the state to get an abortion. The fetus she was carrying had a fatal deformity and carrying it potentially threatened her life.

“In Texas, you are forced to carry that pregnancy, and that is because of Donald Trump overturning Roe v. Wade,” Dennard says in the ad. “The choice was completely taken away. I was to continue my pregnancy, putting my life at risk,” she continued. “It’s every woman’s worst nightmare, and it was absolutely unbearable.”

Biden’s statement on the anniversary of Roe makes the stakes of this election clear: Abortion opponents want women in every state to be subjected to what Dennard faced. “Even as Americans—from Ohio to Kentucky to Michigan to Kansas to California—have resoundingly rejected attempts to limit reproductive freedom, Republican elected officials continue to push for a national ban and devastating new restrictions across the country.”

It also puts forced birth advocates on the spot. They want a national abortion ban, but they know that saying that out loud is a political suicide. Even at Friday’s March for Life, prominent lawmakers and activists steered clear from talking about abortion bans, or even from taking a victory lap at having finally succeeded in overturning Roe. Instead, many talked about efforts to divert federal funding to anti-abortion crisis pregnancy centers, trying to put a caring face on forcing people to carry unwanted, often dangerous, pregnancies.

“This is a critical time to help all moms who are facing unplanned pregnancies,” House Speaker Mike Johnson said at the rally. “To work with foster children and help families who are adopting, to volunteer and assist at our vital pregnancy resource center and maternity homes, and to reach out a renewed hand of compassion and to speak truth and love.” Right, it’s all about compassion and love with the GOP.

Biden and Harris aren’t going to let Republicans get away with that, rhetorically or in terms of policy. The measures the White House unveiled expanded access to contraception, guaranteed access to the abortion pill, and a new task force dedicated to enforcing the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act, which requires hospitals to provide “stabilizing” health care for patients in emergency situations, including labor. That care, the Biden administration maintains, includes abortion.

That puts the administration at loggerheads with the Trump-packed Supreme Court, which will hear a proposed law from the state of Idaho prosecuting emergency room doctors who provide abortions in the course of stabilizing patients. The Justice Department is preparing to argue the law at the Supreme Court later this year.

Biden is also taking the court on by announcing he is “directing further efforts to support patients, providers, and pharmacies who wish to legally access, prescribe, or provide medication abortion.” The court will decide on restrictions on that access—even in states where abortion remains legal—later this year.

Meanwhile, Harris is kicking off her “Reproductive Freedoms Tour” of swing states starting Monday in Wisconsin. She’s taking the fight to Trump in a speech previewed by Politico: “He made a decision to take your freedoms, and it is a decision he does not regret. Just two weeks ago, he said, that for years, ‘they were trying to get Roe v. Wade terminated.’ And then he bragged, ‘I did it, and I’m proud to have done it.’”

“He is proud,” Harris continues. “Proud that women across our nation are suffering? Proud that women have been robbed of a fundamental freedom? That doctors could be thrown in prison for caring for patients? That young women today have fewer rights than their mothers and grandmothers?”

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