Washington (AFP) – The White House on Friday blasted the latest set of “radical” abortion restrictions in four more states run by Republicans, signaling President Joe Biden’s determination to lean on the issue ahead of tight November congressional elections.
There are now full-scale abortion bans in 12 Republican-controlled states, which had prepared so-called trigger laws ready to be activated when the Supreme Court overturned the landmark Roe v. Wade decision ensuring automatic rights to abortion access nationwide.
“Today marks the latest attack against the fundamental rights of Americans as new abortion bans go into effect in Idaho, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Texas,” Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement.
“These near-total abortion bans are part of a growing effort by Republican legislators to roll back the freedoms Americans have relied on for nearly half a century. Today’s radical steps take away women’s reproductive rights and put personal health care decisions in the hands of politicians instead of women and their doctors,” she said.
The Supreme Court ruling two months ago put jurisdiction over abortion access in the hands of individual state legislatures, immediately turning swaths of the country into areas where getting the procedure has become all but impossible.
Jean-Pierre echoed Biden’s frequent demand for Congress to pass a new law enshrining nationwide abortion rights and urged “people across the country to make their voices heard” ahead of the November midterm elections, which will decide whether Democrats retain their narrow hold on the legislature.
Republicans have fought for decades to overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision and finally achieved their goal in a Supreme Court that tilted sharply to conservative interpretations of the constitution after Donald Trump filled three vacancies during his one-term presidency.
Polls show the court’s ruling was unpopular with a majority of Americans, however, and Democrats hope the issue will help them fend off a previously predicted sweep by Republicans in the midterms.
“I think the American people realize this is just beyond the pale, it goes too far,” Biden told reporters at the White House.
Meanwhile, the White House is trying to help women who want to circumvent the bans by supporting their travel to states that do allow abortions.
The health department on Friday announced increased federal funding for states where the authorities want to help such women.
“We have seen the gut-wrenching stories of women suffering and not getting the care they need because of newly-enacted laws that restrict abortion care,” Health Secretary Xavier Becerra said.
The new federal assistance will “protect women’s access to reproductive care, including abortion,” he said.