The Biden administration is launching a PR and policy blitz centered around abortion access – with the White House viewing reproductive rights as key to winning the White House in 2024.
On Monday, the White House announced executive actions to improve access to emergency abortions and contraception across the country, including in Red states with strict restrictions.
It came after the administration released a new advert Sunday featuring a Texas OB-GYN who was forced to travel out of state to terminate her wanted but nonviable pregnancy.
Meanwhile, Kamala Harris is in Wisconsin today where she is launching a national ‘reproductive freedoms tour’ that will see the VP visit more than a dozen states and feature stories of pregnant women who’ve been affected by abortion restrictions.
The issue of abortion access has been identified as a way to improve President Biden’s shaky re-election prospects, while he polls at about 39 percent approval.
The Biden administration’s latest all-out assault on abortion bans in Red states has largely been seen as a political move to boost lagging support in his party
The above map assigns each state, territory, and the District of Columbia to one of five categories: Expanded Access, Protected, Not Protected, Hostile, and Illegal. The majority of restrictions and all-out bans. Abortion is protected by state law in 21 states and the District of Columbia and is at risk of being severely limited or prohibited in twenty-six states and three territories
President Biden will launch education campaigns to help patients, doctors, and hospital staff better understand the law that guarantees emergency access to abortion at hospitals that get federal funding, known as the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA).
The Department of Health and Human Services will also remind insurers and state health officials about their legal obligation to cover the cost of any Food and Drug Administration-approved abortion medication and birth control prescribed by a doctor under Obamacare.
Biden will ‘hear directly from physicians on the frontlines of the fallout’ from the SCOTUS decision that gave GOP-led states the ability to limit abortion access.
After Roe v Wade was tossed out in June 2022, the White House told hospitals and doctors they had to offer abortions in the event of a medical emergency or if the health or life of the patient was in danger, regardless of state law.
But in practice, critics have argued that doctors have been left hesitant to give abortions and with different opinions on what constitutes a medical emergency. In most cases, doctors found in violation of state abortion restrictions face prison time and steep fines.
The White House said ahead of its roundtable with reproductive rights experts: ‘HHS is announcing today a comprehensive plan to educate all patients about their rights and to help ensure hospitals meet their obligations under federal law.
‘HHS will also disseminate training materials for health care providers and establish a dedicated team of experts who will increase the Department’s capacity to support hospitals and providers across the country in complying with federal requirements.’
GOP interpretations of the law have had dangerous consequences.
Mylissa Farmer, 41, was 18 weeks pregnant when her water broke, leaving her at risk of life-threatening complications – but hospitals in her home state of Missouri refused to perform an abortion despite her ‘baby dying inside her.’
She and her husband were forced to go to Missouri and Kansas, but doctors kept giving them a chilling message – despite her baby having no chance of survival and she was at high risk for life-threatening complications, their hands were legally tied, and they couldn’t do anything to help her.
She was finally granted an emergency abortion at a clinic in Illinois, where abortion is legal.
At the same time, the legal interpretation of EMTALA is tied up in the Supreme Court, which is expected to rule by June.
The case concerns an Idaho law that a federal judge said was overly strict in its promise to charge doctors with a felony if they performed an emergency abortion to save a woman’s life.
In addition to hosting a roundtable with his reproductive health task force and physicians impacted by abortion bans in their states, Vice President Kamala Harris will kick off a multistate campaign blitz to drum up support for the administration.
She’ll start in Wisconsin, where she’s expected to rail against Republican legislation to ban abortion after 14 weeks, which the state’s Democratic governor has promised to veto.
While the ongoing Republican primaries show former President Trump has effectively clinched the nomination, his hardline stance against abortion rights runs counter to popular opinion on the matter.
A November poll by the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation showed that 58 percent of all voters regardless of party affiliation trust Democrats more on abortion rights issues compared to 41 percent of all voters who trust Republicans more.
And a Gallup poll conducted last summer mere days after the one-year anniversary of the fall of Roe found 61 percent said that overturning the law was a ‘bad thing,’ while 38 percent called it a ‘good thing.’