Biden boosts abortion, contraception rights after Dobbs v. Jackson


WASHINGTON − President Joe Biden is taking steps to expand access to abortion medication and contraception, the latest moves by his administration to counter a wave of state abortion bans while he makes reproductive rights a centerpiece of his reelection bid.

The new actions include expanding coverage for no-cost contraception through the Affordable Care Act under a new guidance from federal agencies. Federal employees will also receive greater access to contraception under guidelines issued to certain insurers.

Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra is also expected to send a letter to private insurance companies and state Medicaid and Medicare programs reinforcing that they must provide no-cost contraception to people they serve.

The steps, which Biden outlined Monday to his task force on reproductive health care access, coincide with the 51st anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the landmark decision that provided a constitutional right to an abortion for five decades until the conservative-leaning Supreme Court overturned it in 2022.

“On this day and every day, Vice President Harris and I are fighting to protect women’s reproductive freedom against Republicans’ dangerous, extreme, and out-of-touch agenda,” Biden said in a statement. “We stand with the vast majority of Americans who support a woman’s right to choose, and continue to call on Congress to restore the protections of Roe in federal law once and for all.”

The Health and Human Services Department also is rolling out a plan to educate patients about the administration’s position that they are entitled to care for pregnancy-related emergences − including abortion care in some cases − under the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act.

The Biden campaign, bracing for a possible election rematch against former President Donald Trump, is reminding women voters that Trump’s three Supreme Court appointments were instrumental in Roe’s dismantling. The court’s decision cleared the way for Republican-led states across the country to adopt new abortion bans or restrictions.

“Folks, this is what it looks like when the right to privacy is under attack,” Biden said Monday, singling out three Republican proposals in Congress that would restrict abortion rights nationally and Republican-controlled states that have passed laws to make it harder for a person to get an abortion. “These extreme laws have no place in the United States of America.”

Biden supports passing legislation to codify abortion protections that were once enshrined in Roe, but it would likely require strong Democratic majorities in the Senate and House.

“Until then, my administration is going to keep working to protect women in the wake of the Supreme Court’s extreme decision,” Biden said, referring to the 2022 Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision that officially overturned Roe.

The Biden campaign released a new TV ad over the weekend featuring an OB-GYN in Texas, a mother of three, who said she was forced to flee the state to receive an abortion for a planned pregnancy that put her life at risk.

“In Texas, you are forced to carry that pregnancy, and that is because of Donald Trump overturning Roe v. Wade. The choice was completely taken away,” Dr. Austin Dennard says in the ad.

Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris are set to hold a rally Tuesday in Virginia that will mark the rollout of a reinvigorated push by the Biden campaign to make restoring abortion rights a defining issue of the 2024 election.

The rally will take place during the New Hampshire Democratic primary, which Biden is skipping amid the state’s yearlong dispute with the Democratic National Committee over the primary calendar.

Reach Joey Garrison on X, formerly Twitter, @joeygarrison.

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