Abortion rights advocates lament the 50th commemoration of Roe v. Wade
Vice President Harris will speak about protecting and expanding access to reproductive health care on Sunday as anti-abortion groups accelerate their push for a nationwide ban.
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This Sunday was supposed to be the 50th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that established the constitutional right to abortion care. Instead, it’s the first year in nearly five decades that the 25 million women who currently live in one of the 18 states that have banned abortion have no federal protections to make their own health care decisions.
Vice President Kamala Harris will be in Florida to give a speech, which will headline the White House’s programming for the day.
A senior White House official said that Harris will make the case for national legislation to protect reproductive rights and draw a contrast between Republicans’ extreme approach to reproductive health care and that of the administration. Harris will also point out the detrimental impact of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization — the decision that overturned Roe last summer — on the health of women and place the abortion rights movement within the context of a broader conversation about freedom and liberty.
While Harris is in the Sunshine State, Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra will be in the midwest to see and hear firsthand the difficult choices communities are facing after the overturning of Roe. Becerra will start in Minnesota, a state that continues to allow abortions and is working to expand access to reproductive health care, before traveling to Wisconsin where abortions are no longer allowed.
A second senior administration official said the trip will highlight how you can drive just a few miles across state lines and lose your right to receive abortion care.
“These two states share a long border but have diverged dramatically in a post-Roe world,” the official said. “Minnesota leaders are taking action to protect access to abortion while Wisconsin has allowed for government interference in deeply personal medical decisions. As a result, women are suffering in the state.”
HHS will also release a report outlining the department’s actions to protect access to abortion services, safeguard access to birth control, protect patient privacy, and promote access to accurate information that ensures nondiscrimination in health care and evidence-based decision-making at the Food and Drug Administration.
President Joe Biden, a devout catholic with complicated abortion politics, will play a supporting role to Harris this weekend. Another senior administration official said he will issue a statement and proclamation that will renew his call for Congress to pass the Women’s Health Protection Act, a bill that would restore the protections of Roe into federal law.
The fall of Roe was one of the crises that helped Vice President Harris find her footing after a bumpy first year filled with volatile staff turnover, misogynist media coverage and a series of setbacks on voting rights, migration and criminal justice reform — three issues in her sprawling legislative portfolio. But since Dobbs, she’s hosted 40 different convenings with leaders from 38 states. And as she’s traveled the country, Harris has convened nearly 200 state legislators from 18 states to discuss the fight at the state level. (For the president’s part, he has signed two executive orders that defend the right to travel across state lines for medical care, protect the physical safety and security of clinics, providers and patients, and protect patient privacy and access to accurate information.)
But Harris, Biden and White House officials have been candid about the fact that congressional action is necessary to make Roe the law of the land again. The votes weren’t there last year when Senate Democrats couldn’t find the 10 Republican votes they needed to push through House-passed legislation. And with the Republicans controlling the House, the prospects are even bleaker. In fact, House Republicans passed two anti-abortion measures in their first legislative week in the majority to go on record with where they stand on the issue.