World Abortion Is on SCOTUS’ Radar—and Biden Is Getting Heat
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Abortions rights advocates cheered when Joe Biden was elected, heralding his win as a “” and a “ .” Now, with the nationwide right to an abortion on the line, they’re getting a little impatient.
On Monday, the Supreme Court announced it would take on a Mississippi case that has the potential to overturn Roe v Wade, the 1973 decision making abortion legal across the country. If that happens, nearly half of the U.S. would move to prohibit the procedure, according to the.
Advocates see the decision to take on the case as a massive threat to abortion rights—and one Biden may not be taking seriously enough.
These Start-Ups Could Make Abortion One Click Away
In California right now, you can get an abortion without speaking to a single other human being. You log onto a website—mychoix.co—put in your health information, answer some questions, and wait for an email from a clinician letting you know if you’ve been approved. If you are, an online pharmacy will ship you a package of mifepristone and misoprostol—a two-pill regime that is safer than many prescription drugs and 98 percent effective at terminating early-stage pregnancies. You will take it, you will bleed, your pregnancy will—in all likelihood—end.
“He turned his back on people who have abortions as soon as he got into office,” said Renee Bracey Sherman, executive director of the abortion advocacy group We Testify. “What happened this morning at the Supreme Court is what happens when you turn your backs on us and ignore the restrictions we’re facing every single day.”
Pressure on Biden to act more decisively began mounting April 29, when more than 140 organizations called on the administration to prioritize changes to U.S. sexual and reproductive rights law recommended by the United Nations. The day before, nearly 60 women’s rights organizations—including Planned Parenthood and NARAL, which spent tens of millions of dollars to help elect the president—sent a letter to the administration asking them to increase funding for abortion and remove “unnecessary barriers” to access.
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Joe Biden, sporting aviator sunglasses, looked out from the driver's seat of Ford's new electric truck and delivered a presidential proclamation: "This sucker's quick." The battery-powered Ford F-150 Lightning is due to be unveiled on Wednesday as the auto giant's new big bet on the emerging electric auto market. But avid car enthusiast Biden not only got a sneak preview Tuesday -- he managed a test drive. Streaking across the enormous tarmac expanse of Ford's proving grounds in Dearborn, Michigan, with just a Secret Service agent in the passenger seat for company, Biden appeared to be living his dream.
“The Biden-Harris administration and Congressional leadership must prioritize these policies for women and women of color,” they wrote, in acalling for multiple changes on behalf of American women. “We need to build back better for women and create lasting political, social and economic change.”
The tensions came to a head Monday, when the Supreme Court announced it was taking up a challenge to a Mississippi law that bans abortion at 15 weeks’ gestation—the most stringent restriction it has heard since Roe, and the first abortion case it has heard since the confirmation of Justice Amy Coney Barrett, who tipped the balance of the bench against reproductive rights.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki addressed the issue in a press conference that day, saying the administration was “devoted” to ensuring every American has access to reproductive health care, and “committed to codifying Roe.” But she did not once say the word abortion—an omission advocates have noticed.
Texas governor signs law banning abortion at six weeks
The governor of Texas signed a bill on Wednesday that would ban abortion at six weeks -- before many women even know they are pregnant. The signing of the Texas bill comes just days after the nation's highest court agreed to hear a case that could pose a challenge to the landmark 1973 Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion. The case involves a Mississippi law that prohibits abortions after the 15th week of pregnancy except in cases of a medical emergency or a severe fetal abnormality.It will be the first abortion case considered by the Supreme Court since former president Donald Trump cemented a conservative majority on the nine-member panel.
“It’s hard to have a conversation about abortion policy in this country when you can’t say the word abortion,” said Destiny Lopez, co-president of reproductive rights group All* Above All, adding that doing so would “send a message that it’s not just about policy—that they are committed to lifting some of the stigma, some of the shame around this issue in this country.”
And other advocates felt that the administration should be calling out more than just the Mississippi ban. More than 500 abortion restrictions have been introduced in 44 states this year,, including restrictions on the use of medication abortion and bans on the procedure at as early as six weeks.
At such a historically fraught time for abortion rights, “the bully pulpit of the White House—of a supportive administration that wants to see access to reproductive healthcare protected—is really important,” said Jacqueline Ayers, Planned Parenthood Action Fund's vice president of government relations and public policy.
She added: “We would love to see the administration be a really committed champion for sexual and reproductive health, [and] be explicit in their support for abortion as healthcare and in calling out attacks we’re seeing in the states.”
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With Israeli continuing to pummel Hamas, and growing support for Palestinians within his own party, Biden seemed to have no good options. Yet he comes out of the crisis with more freedom to do what he actually wants: Seek a deal with Iran.The exchange of rocket and mortar fire between Israel and Hamas in Gaza had put Biden in a difficult spot. The left flank of the Democratic party has been increasingly outspoken in its support for the Palestinian people. And when Israel responded militarily to Hamas's attack, progressives—led by Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar—criticized Israel and went after Biden himself.
Biden pitched himself as a staunch supporter of abortion rights on the campaign trail, saying at one debate: “It’s a woman’s right to do that. Period.” He promised to pass legislation codifying Roe v Wade into law and to rescind the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits federal funds from going toward abortions. The “Biden Agenda for Women” promised to “protect and empower women around the world.”
This week, several advocates said his relative silence on the issue since taking office left them feeling like pawns.
“I think the Biden administration has done what a lot of politicians do, which is when they’re on the campaign trial they talk a great game, and then when they’re elected they seem to be little more shy,” said Quita Tinsley, deputy director of the abortion fund Access Reproductive Care-Southeast. “With these clear attacks against abortion, there also needs to be a clear stance by this administration that abortion is not a compromise.”
Biden did make several steps toward improving access during his first 100 days in office, including rescinding the Mexico City Policy, which blocks U.S. funding to any NGO that advocates for abortion rights, and loosening restrictions on the Title X sexual and reproductive health care program. The FDA has also allowed for medication abortion to be prescribed via telemedicine for the duration of the pandemic, and is mounting a full-scale review of the larger restrictions around its use.
GOP states ramp up legal battles against Biden's immigration policies
As the Biden administration has been working rapidly to undo key Trump-era border and immigration policies and replace them with more liberal policies, Republican state attorneys general have been working just as hard to push back against what they see as illegal actions that could hurt Americans and put them in danger. "As attorney general I have certain tools in my toolbox, and I have said I am going to do everything I can to enforce the rule of law and to protect hard-working American taxpayers," Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich said in an interview with Fox News.
But Laurie Bertram Roberts, co-founder of the Mississippi Reproductive Freedom Fund, said lifting the federal restrictions around medication abortion did little to help people in states like Mississippi, where lawmakers have already outlawed its use via telemedicine entirely. “I’m still waiting for something to happen on the federal level that affects all states equally, and that hasn't happened yet.” she said.
To that end, advocates are backing national legislation like the Women's Health Protection Act, which would codify Roe into federal law, and the EACH Act, which would require government-sponsored insurance plans to cover abortion care. They are also asking for a repeal of the Hyde Amendment and the Helms Amendment, which bars foreign aid from going to organizations to provide abortions.
The Center for Reproductive Rights, which represents the plaintiffs in the Mississippi case, is also calling on Biden to ask the solicitor general to weigh in in their favor. (Previous administrations have done so in cases like Whole Woman’s Health v Hellerstedt, which successfully shot down a stringent abortion law out of Texas.)
Many of these requests have also been backed by prominent Democrats in Congress. Just this month, almost two dozen lawmakers wrote a letter calling on the president to keep the Hyde and Helms Amendments out of his budget. The Women's Health Protection Act had 43 co-sponsors when it was introduced in the Senate in 2019; supporters plan to re-introduce it this year.
Biden has also faced pressure from the other side—including the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which will weigh in this summer on whether or not to allow the pro-choice president to take Holy Communion.
On this issue, Bertram Roberts had a simple answer.
“They already hate you,” she said. “You might as well go ahead and stand up for what you think is right.”
Amid stigma in Croatia, volunteers support women having abortions .
While terminating a pregnancy is legal in Croatia, access to abortion is becoming increasingly challenging.Two weeks earlier, she had signed up online to be a Brave Sister and was still considering the level of involvement she wanted with the new initiative.