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President Biden Holds Virtual Meeting With Governors On Protecting Access To Reproductive Health Care

Biden virtual meeting with Democratic governors abortion access Source: Tasos Katopodis / Getty

A week after the conservative majority on the Supreme Court overturned federal protections for abortion access, President Biden gathered a group of Democratic governors to talk strategy. In his opening remarks, Biden said he would use the federal government’s full power to oppose state-level efforts to restrict autonomy and invade personal medical decisions.

He also spoke about protecting people’s right to travel across state lines to access abortion if needed. Republican lawmakers in South Carolina proposed legislation that would criminalize the mere sharing of information about how to get an abortion out of state. It would also ban medical abortion using pills like mifepristone and misoprostol.

As I’ve said last week, this is not over. Last week I announced two specific actions. First, if extremist governors try to block the woman from traveling from her state that prohibits her from seeking medical help she needs to estate to provide that care, the federal government will act to protect her bedrock right through the Attorney general’s office. Second, if states try to block a woman from getting medication the FDA has already approved and has been available for more than 20 years, my administration will act and protect that woman’s right to that medication. And there are many other unlawful actions, in my view, that states are preparing to take that we will have to address as well. But ultimately, Congress is gonna have to act to codify Roe into federal law. And as I said yesterday, the filibuster should not stand in the way of us being able to do that. But right now, we don’t have votes in the Senate to change the filibuster at the moment.

Biden also signaled the need for Democrats to pick up at least two additional Senate seats, expanding the majority beyond a 50-50 split with a tie-breaking vote going to the vice president. While he didn’t call them out by name, Sens. Joe Manchin and Krysten Sinema have been the hold-outs each time the filibuster is brought up.

During the meeting, acting New York Gov. Kathy Hochul told the president that her state was on the verge of protecting abortion access in the state’s constitution. According to the New York Times, the New York state legislature was poised to make Hochul’s commitment a priority.

Noticeably absent from the conversation was Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, who recently sided with Republicans in signing an extreme anti-abortion bill into law. Citing his personal anti-abortion stance and religious beliefs, Edwards put his own personal preference over the needs and experiences of people to make choices for themselves as it pertains to abortion access.

The Center for Reproductive Rights filed suit challenging three trigger bans set to go into effect in Louisiana. A judge temporarily blocked the state’s “trigger ban.” The Louisiana suit is among the many filed across 11 states since Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization was decided last week.

“Our immediate priority is to preserve access in every state for as long as we can,” said Nancy Northup, President & CEO for the Center for Reproductive Rights. “Every day and hour that a clinic can stay open is a victory for the patients in the waiting room. We have already seen abortion services restored in numerous states as a result of our collective legal efforts, and there will be more cases filed in the days to come. The clinics we represent are working non-stop to help as many patients as possible for as long as they can.”


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