Harris opposes GOP efforts to end abortion rights as Biden pushes initiative

WASHINGTON. Vice President Kamala Harris spoke out against efforts by Washington and Republican-led states to curb abortion on the 50th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade case, filed in Dallas County and affecting fundamental American values ​​such as the freedom to advocate for access to abortion despite on the decision of the Supreme Court to remove the constitutional protection for him.

Leading the administration’s response to Sunday’s Roe commemoration, Harris methodically described the struggles throughout history for certain freedoms, such as civil rights and the right to vote for women, and linked it to access to abortion, which Harris called “a fundamental, constitutional right.” women make decisions about their own bodies.”

By the 50th anniversary of Rowe v. Wade, the abortion scene in America had changed dramatically.

“Can we truly be free if families can’t make intimate decisions about the course of their lives?” Harris said in a fiery speech to a raging crowd of 1,500 people in Tallahassee, Florida. “And can we really be free if the so-called leaders claim to be, quote, at the forefront of freedom when they dare to restrict the rights of the American people and attack the very foundations of freedom?”

Women’s marches to demand abortion rights were expected to draw thousands across the country on Sunday, the 50th anniversary of the overturned Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade that established the federal right to abortion. The National March for Life took place on Friday in Washington, and the related march in North Texas took place last Sunday. Abortion rights marched in Dallas today.

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Harris described the aftermath of abortion restrictions: A 10-year-old Ohio girl who became pregnant after being raped but was forced to leave the state to have an abortion. A 35-year-old Texas woman who was denied treatment three times for what turned out to be a miscarriage and developed sepsis that nearly killed her. A 14-year-old girl from Arizona who initially couldn’t get her chronic arthritis medication because the medication could also lead to miscarriage.

“At stake is the right of every woman in every state in this country to make decisions about her body,” Harris said. “I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: how dare they. How dare they?

Harris’ decision to march in Tallahassee, the state capital, reflects how the front lines have shifted since last summer. Now that there is no longer a national right to abortion, disputes over the issue will be played out in the individual houses of the states, not in the halls of Congress or the Supreme Court. White House officials gathered senior lawmakers from eight states last week to discuss the pending bill.

Abortion rights protesters mark Rowe’s anniversary with a march through downtown Dallas.

After better-than-expected results in the November election, Democrats see abortion as a key issue for their party in 2024, when control of the White House and both houses of Congress will be played out at the same time. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis could run for the Republican presidential nomination in a first step to take on President Joe Biden, who is running for re-election.

Prior to her speech, Harris told abortion rights advocates on a conference call Sunday that they should keep their energy up against restrictions in Republican-led states and work on behalf of candidates in local races that support access to abortion.

“We are fighting for something. History will show that we are on the right side in this matter,” said Harris. “So let’s not be embarrassed, let’s not be overwhelmed. Now is not the time to give up. It’s time to roll up your sleeves.”

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Florida is critical because its abortion rules are less restrictive than those of its neighbors, making it a relatively safe haven for women in the region who are trying to terminate pregnancies. But the Republican-controlled state government may consider further restrictions.

DeSantis’ office did not respond to a request for comment.

In Sunday’s statement, Biden said “women should be able to make these highly personal decisions without political interference. However, Republicans in Congress and across the country continue to push for a national ban on abortion, criminalization of doctors and nurses, and more difficult access to contraceptives. It’s dangerous, extreme and out of reach.”

Heidi Barnett, a former escort at the Jackson abortion clinic, right, stands with a small group of protesters in front of the Mississippi Governor’s Mansion in Jackson, Friday, January 20, 2023. Gatherings of life with posters calling for the right to abortion. A state law banning most abortions went into effect July 7, 2022. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)(Rogelio V. Solis / ASSOCIATED PRESS)

There are fears that Biden and his administration have exhausted their options for executive action.

The Food and Drug Administration announced this month that abortion pills will become more widely available at pharmacies and mail-order. Pills can also be obtained through a virtual appointment rather than at a doctor’s office.

The actions announced by the White House on Sunday also included medical abortion. Biden’s latest efforts are to:

  • Protect access by directing its administration to consider new recommendations to support patients, healthcare providers and pharmacies who want to legally access, prescribe or provide mifepristone, no matter where they live.
  • Ensuring that patients understand their right to access reproductive health despite obstacles by instructing its administration to consider new actions to ensure that patients can access legal reproductive services, including medical abortion in a pharmacy, without threats or violence.
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A legal battle is currently being played out in Texas federal court where anti-abortion opponents have sued to overturn years of drug approval.

“The administration is really looking at existing federal law and trying to use it,” said Lawrence Gostin, director of the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health at Georgetown Law Institute.

Not all of the administration’s ideas came true. Last year, Biden announced that states could apply to waive the use of Medicaid dollars to pay women’s fares for abortions. No waivers were required.

Across states, the fight to protect access to abortion is playing out in courtrooms, with active litigation against abortion restrictions underway in 14 states, according to an analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

The nonprofit health organization found that advocates typically take one of three approaches to filing legal cases against abortion laws, saying the laws violate a state’s constitutional protections, infringe on certain states’ guaranteed rights to choose health care, or block religious freedoms.

It’s unclear which legal arguments might be most successful, as state’s highest courts ultimately decide how affordable abortion will be. Meanwhile, anti-abortion advocates are looking for ways to use the courts to further restrict abortion.

Lawsuit seeks to overturn FDA approval of abortion-inducing mifepristone.

Renee Bracey Sherman, founder and CEO of We Testify, a group that advocates for women who have had an abortion, said she was disappointed that Biden didn’t do more.

“The fact that he went missing during this public health emergency is really embarrassing,” she said.

Senator Tina Smith, Minnesota, joined Senator Elizabeth Warren, Massachusetts last year to call on Biden to formally declare a public health emergency.

Biden never did, but Smith said she was pleased with the steps he took.

“It would be hard for me to point out what they didn’t do but could have done in a public health emergency,” she said.

Dallas Morning News assistant political editor John Gravois contributed to this report.

Roe v. Wade: Key Players and Background to the Now-Dismissed 1973 Dallas County Case.
Anti-abortion activists hold a cross at a rally outside the U.S. Supreme Court during...
Anti-abortion activists hold a cross during a rally outside the U.S. Supreme Court during the March for Life on Washington, Friday, January 20, 2023. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana) #(Jose Luis Magana / ASSOCIATED PRESS)

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