Democrats work to keep reproductive justice center stage
From the White House to Congress to the states, the left and its allies in the abortion-rights movement want Americans to know they’re fighting for them.
FIRST THINGS FIRST
BIDEN TO SIGN ANOTHER EXECUTIVE ORDER — President Joe Biden this afternoon will sign an executive order at the first meeting of the interagency Task Force on Reproductive Healthcare Access that directs the Department of Health and Human Services to consider action to make reproductive health care more accessible for Medicaid recipients who travel out of state for services.
The order will also call on HHS to reiterate to health care providers their obligation to comply with federal law and the consequences of non-compliance. Additionally, Biden will call on HHS to research the impact that diminishing access to reproductive health care services has on pregnant people through data collection and data analysis at the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
After Biden signs the executive order, he will hear from relevant cabinet secretaries on the progress they’ve made implementing the previous order the president signed last month. Vice President Kamala Harris, who chairs the task force, will then lead a meeting to plan next steps.
A senior administration official said President Biden would continue to take executive action where he can but repeated the White House’s position that the most effective way to ensure reproductive justice would be to elect members of Congress this fall who are committed to enshrining the right to abortion care into law. Read a fact sheet on the executive order
KANSAS VOTERS STAND UP FOR REPRODUCTIVE JUSTICE — On the busiest primary night in more than a month, all eyes were on the Sunflower State as voters rejected a ballot measure that would have enabled the Kanas legislature to ban the right to abortion in the state’s constitution.
Abortion rights advocates point to the fact voters turned out in high numbers during a midterm primary with few Democrats on the ballot as proof that the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade in June is a galvanizing issue for people no matter their politics on other issues.
California, Kentucky, Michigan, Montana and Vermont also have abortion-related measures on the ballot, representing the most on the issue in a single year. Read President Biden’s statement on the Kansas measure
— Abortion moves up on “most important” list: While inflation, government and the economy remain the top US problems, eight percent of Americans now mention abortion, according to Frank Newport at Gallup. This is the highest percentage mentioning that issue in the public opinion polling organization’s records.
— ICYMI: “‘People are tuned in’: How states are empowering voters to protect reproductive freedom”
— Read all about it: “Why the Kansas abortion amendment is so confusing” (Rachel M. Cohen / Vox) … Lindsay Beyerstein at The New Republic says blue states should give red states that are using the Dobbs decision to change Democratic-controlled states’ way of life the culture war they’re asking for.
SENATE DEMS INTRODUCE DOCTOR-PROTECTION BILL — Democratic Sens. Patty Murray of Washington, Ben Ray Luján of New Mexico, Alex Padilla of California and Jacky Rosen of Nevada on Tuesday introduced new legislation to protect doctors against Republican attacks on providing abortion care in states where it is still legal.
The bill is in response to the right-wing backlash against Dr. Caitlin Bernard, the Indiana physician who faced legal threats and attacks for providing legal reproductive health care to a 10-year-old rape victim who crossed state lines from Ohio for an abortion. (Dr. Bernard has endorsed the legislation.)
The senators said the attacks against Dr. Bernard represent a rising issue of abortion care providers facing legal and political intimidation from anti-abortion Republicans. And Aron Solomon, head of strategy for Esquire Digital, a digital marketing agency for legal firms, told Supercreator that the anti-abortion movement’s playbook includes grinding people down with scrutiny.
“It’s the people that are going to be under the scrutiny are both people who are going to get abortion and people who are doing abortion especially when it comes to what happened in Indiana, which of course, is not just a very very young person, but with crossing state lines,” Solomon said. “And that's really kind of the fundamental issue here.”
Solomon added that the more scrutiny you can put on people, the more difficult you can make it, in a practical sense, for abortions to happen because the right wing understands that not all 50 states in the US or every country in the world are going to outlaw abortion. So even the threat of some of attacks that we’ve seen happen could dissuade some people from seeking care even in places where it’s still legal.
The Democratic senators are working with urgency to rally support for the bill to push back against GOP efforts to advance laws that would criminalize performing an abortion on a state resident who seeks care in another safe-haven state.
DOJ SUES IDAHO OVER NEAR-TOTAL ABORTION BAN — The Justice Department filed a lawsuit against Idaho for the state’s law, set to go into effect on Aug. 25, that makes abortion a felony, except for cases of rape, incest or to save the pregnant person’s life. (A rape or incest victim would have to provide a copy of a police report to the physician who would perform the procedure, a process which can sometimes take weeks, Kelcie Moseley-Morris at the Idaho Capital Sun reports.)
It’s the first DOJ suit after the Supreme Court overturned the constitutional right to abortion care in June.
The Department said Idaho’s ban violates the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act, a 1986 law that requires hospital emergency departments that accept payments from Medicare to provide stabilizing care and treatment to anyone who needs it, regardless of citizenship, legal status or ability to pay. Read Attorney General Merrick Garland’s remarks on the announcement … Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta’s remarks … Read Sen. Murray’s statement … Read NARAL Pro-Choice America’s statement
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CORRECTION — In yesterday’s item on the GenForward Survey, I reported that nearly 70 percent of women respondents believe the country is heading in the wrong direction, seven points higher than men. In fact, the percentage was 80, three points higher than men. Shoutout to Wade for flagging it to my attention. My bad for the error.
TODAY IN POLITICS
President Biden this morning will virtually receive his daily intelligence briefing. He this afternoon will speak about reproductive health care at the first interagency reproductive rights task force meeting. Attorney General Merrick Garland, Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra, Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas will join the president.
Vice President Harris will also attend and speak the task force meeting.
The Senate is in and this afternoon will vote to approve the addition of Sweden and Finland to NATO.
The House is out.