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Biden urged to protect abortion access following Roe v Wade overturn

Independent Australia
27 Jun 2022, 16:52 GMT+10

President Joe Biden has been called on to fight for abortion rights after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the Roe v Wade ruling, writes Kenny Stancil.

So wrote Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass) and Tina Smith (D-Minn) in a New York Times opinion piece published Saturday, one day after the U.S. Supreme Court's reactionary majority struck down Roe v Wade, imperilling reproductive freedom and other civil rights for millions of people nationwide.

'The Supreme Court doesn't get the final say on abortion,' the lawmakers argued. 'The American people will have the last word through their representatives in Congress and the White House.'

Although President Joe Biden denounced the high court's deeply unpopular 6-3 ruling in Dobbs v Jackson Women's Health Organisation on Friday, he offered no concrete plans for protecting abortion access beyond urging voters to elect more Democrats in November's pivotal midterms.

Warren and Smith agree with the President's contention that protections once guaranteed by Roe are 'on the ballot' but they also insisted that numerous steps can and must be taken immediately to secure people's ability to control their own bodies.

Reports Roe v Wade will be overturned should alarm us

The fact that a judicial decision to overrule Roe v Wade was widely expected does nothing to reduce the profound shockwaves now that it seems to be here.

'Each of us can and should act - both elected officials and everyday Americans,' wrote Warren and Smith, the only Senator to have ever worked at Planned Parenthood. 'We can start by helping those who need access to an abortion.'

The pair continued:

While the Senate's passage of the House-approved Women's Health Protection Act, which would enshrine reproductive rights into federal law, depends on convincing Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va) and other right-wing holdouts to repeal the chamber's anti-democratic 60-vote filibuster rule, Warren and Smith argued that the White House has the power to swiftly protect access to abortion care.

Earlier this month, the duo joined Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash) and half the Senate Democratic Caucus in sending a letter to Biden outlining executive actions his administration can take to defend reproductive freedom in the face of the GOP's onslaught.

Suggested actions, which Warren and Smith reiterated in their new essay, include '...increasing access to abortion medication, providing federal resources for individuals seeking abortion care in other states, and using federal property and resources to protect people seeking abortion services locally'.

Australia needs national abortion protection

To allow women adequate access to abortion services, they must be available across the country writes Cali Bourne.

Attorney General Merrick Garland, for his part, did suggest on Friday that the Justice Department will crack down on states that attempt to ban Mifepristone, abortion medication that has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

But while Biden is reportedly considering a number of executive orders, it remains unclear if his administration is planning to subsidise individuals' increasingly long trips to out-of-state abortion clinics or utilise federal lands to expand access to the procedure.

During a press conference outside the Massachusetts State House on Friday, Warren told reporters that Biden and congressional Democrats should "explore just how much we can start using federal lands as a way to protect people who need access to abortions in all the states that either have banned abortions or are clearly on the threshold of doing so".

At least 11 states banned or severely restricted abortion within the first 24 hours of the Supreme Court's decision. Fifteen more are expected to eliminate or drastically reduce legal access to abortion in the coming weeks, endangering the health and economic well-being of women across the U.S.

Addressing a crowd of protesters gathered in New York's Union Square, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) echoed the idea of using federal property to circumvent state-level abortion bans.

Ocasio-Cortez told the crowd:

Pleas for action come as the GOP is laying the groundwork for a federal abortion ban if they retake Congress and the White House, an idea that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) is open to.

Warren said on Friday:

In their opinion piece, Warren and Smith urged the President 'to declare a public health emergency to protect abortion access for all Americans, unlocking critical resources and authority that states and the Federal Government can use to meet the surge in demand for reproductive health services'.

A coalition of Black congresswomen led by Representatives Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass), Barbara Lee (D-Calif) and Cori Bush (D-Mo) made a similar push just before the high court issued its judgment on Friday morning.

The current predicament is the outcome of a 50-year campaign waged by 'right-wing extremists [who] rejected the beliefs held by an overwhelming majority of Americans,' Warren and Smith argued.

Make no mistake: Abortion bans violate human rights

In the wake of the Alabama abortion ban, we have witnessed myriad women throughout the world come forward with their stories.

They explained:

'We can't undo in five months the damage it took Republicans five decades to accomplish, but we can immediately start repairing our democracy,' Warren and Smith noted.

'We need broad democracy reform,' they emphasised. That means 'changing the composition of the courts, reforming Senate rules like the filibuster and even fixing the outdated Electoral College that allowed presidential candidates who lost the popular vote to take office and nominate five of the justices who agreed to end the right to an abortion'.

Warren and Smith continued:

This article by Kenny Stancil was originally published on Common Dreams, under the title, '"We Need Action": Biden, Democrats Urged to Protect Abortion Access in Post-Roe U.S.' and has been republished under a Creative Commons licence.

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