The Biden strategy: The
ad released Sunday features a Texas OB-GYN forced to travel out of state to terminate her wanted but nonviable pregnancy. On Monday, the White House announced executive actions to improve access to abortion and contraception. Vice President Kamala Harris will be in Wisconsin Monday to kick off a national
“reproductive freedoms tour” that will feature more than a dozen stops where Harris will spotlight stories of pregnant people affected by abortion restrictions.
Then, on Tuesday, Biden and Harris will appear for their first joint reelection campaign event: a Northern Virginia rally focused on the stakes of the election for reproductive rights.
Taken together, the coordinated effort marks Biden’s most explicit attempt yet to underscore an issue he plans to make central to his bid for re-election as he looks to capitalize on a playbook that helped Democrats outperform expectations in the 2022 midterms and proved a key factor in several swing-state victories since Roe was overturned.
Biden’s campaign surrogates are ramping up the message as well.
In an interview with POLITICO, Biden campaign co-chair and Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer argued that
the state protections voters have enacted since Roe’s fall, including
in her state, would be in jeopardy if former President Donald Trump or another Republican were to win in November.
“We cannot afford to have someone in the White House who is going to rip these rights away that we’ve been fighting so hard to protect,” she said, previewing the message she’s taking to events across Michigan . “We’ve got one candidate who has vowed to use every tool to protect a woman’s right to make her own decisions. And we have another who is thrilled that it was his appointees that shifted the court and ripped this right away from American women.”
The GOP position: Trump, the likely Republican nominee, takes credit for appointing the justices who overturned Roe v. Wade and is
supported by anti-abortion groups despite refusing to commit to a national ban and
calling for exceptions for rape, incest and to protect the life of the mother — carve outs that some conservatives oppose.
The Trump campaign did not respond to a request for comment.
The GOP is divided on how to best capitalize on the fall of Roe amid a widespread voter backlash to state abortion bans — with some urging the matter be left to states, others ducking the issue and many advocating for more aggressive action to limit access nationwide.
Conservative activists who gathered Friday and Saturday in DC to mark the anniversary of Roe called for the next president to stack his or her administration with anti-abortion officials who would use executive power at many different agencies to restrict abortion, including in states where it’s legally protected.
For example, Trump’s former vice president Mike Pence said Saturday at an annual anti-abortion conference hosted by the group Students for Life that next president should immediately direct the Food and Drug Administration to “pull the abortion pill off the market.”
The Biden administration’s actions: One executive order announced Monday launches a program to educate patients and doctors about their rights under — the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act, known as EMTALA. It includes an easier way for patients to submit a complaint when denied an abortion during an emergency and a beefed-up team at the Department of Health and Human Services to review those complaints and bring hospitals into compliance. The moves comes as the Supreme Court
prepares to hear arguments in April on hospitals’ obligation to provide abortions to pregnant people experiencing a medical emergency.
The Biden administration has recently
faced criticism for not doing more in response to EMTALA complaints it has already received, including its decision to deny a complaint filed last fall by an Oklahoma woman with serious pregnancy complications who
was told to wait in her hospital parking lot until her health deteriorated enough to qualify for an exemption to the state’s ban.
The administration will also release guidance requiring insurers to cover a broader range of contraceptives at no cost under the Affordable Care Act —
a step Democrats on Capitol Hill have been demanding. The Office of Personnel Management will also send that guidance to insurers who cover federal workers and require them to inform enrollees about their rights and benefits.
Still to come: Biden administration officials signaled on a call with reporters Friday that more executive actions are on the horizon, including a final rule to
strengthen privacy protections under HIPAA for pregnant people who terminate a pregnancy.