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‘This Is Not Over’: Biden Vows to Fight for Abortion Access

(Bloomberg) -- President Joe Biden said November’s election would play a critical role in determining abortion rights and criticized restrictions on access to the procedure as “cruel” as he announced new executive actions designed to increase access to reproductive health care.

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“I hear about it everywhere I go,” Biden said Monday at a White House event marking the the 51st anniversary of the landmark Roe v. Wade decision, which the Supreme Court overturned in 2022.

“Your voice will have a final say — this is not over,” he added.

While he didn’t mention Donald Trump by name, Biden has been sharpening attacks against the former president, who has a commanding lead in what is now a two-person race for this year’s Republican nomination. Trump’s appointees to the Supreme Court were instrumental in overturning federal abortion rights protections in a 2022 decision.

Backlash against the ruling — and bans of the procedure that it triggered across the country — helped Democrats hold the Senate and limit their House losses in the 2022 midterms, and the president’s party views it as an issue that could motivate voters this year as well.

Polls indicate that most Americans believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases, and every ballot initiative to restrict the procedure has failed. Voters in several states, even solidly Republican Ohio, have enshrined the right to an abortion into law.

The decision to overturn Roe “took away the right to make deeply personal decisions and gave it to politicians who have never had to sit with a patient and share in the worst moments of their lives,” said Tani Malhotra, an Ohio physician who accompanied Biden at the event.

Casting himself as the protector of reproductive health also fits into Biden’s broader strategy of painting Trump as a threat to democracy and Americans’ freedoms.

On Monday, Biden unveiled new executive actions around family planning and his administration issued guidance making free contraceptives more available under the Affordable Care Act and for federal employees. They also announced a new team responsible for enforcing a law the White House says requires hospitals to provide emergency abortions nationwide.

“The extreme right is trying to limit all women in America from getting safe and effective medication, approved by the Federal Drug Administration over 20 years ago,” Biden said.

Vice President Kamala Harris embarked Monday on a multi-state, several-week tour aimed at highlighting the issue. A dozen states are expected to feature abortion-related ballot measures in 2024, including Arizona and Nevada, swing states that could help decide the presidential election.

Biden and Harris — who have both called for Congress to pass legislation enshrining the right to abortion into federal law — are set to attend a rally Tuesday in Northern Virginia focused on abortion rights.

“Congress must codify Roe v. Wade for all the states in America,” Biden said Monday. “Stop playing politics with a woman’s life and freedom.”

--With assistance from Akayla Gardner.

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