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U.S. abortion rights advocates fuming over Biden, Democratic response to looming threat

WorldMay 14, 2022 06:45PM ET
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© Reuters. Abortion rights protesters participate in nationwide demonstrations following the leaked Supreme Court opinion suggesting the possibility of overturning the Roe v. Wade abortion rights decision, in Seattle, Washington, U.S., May 14, 2022. REUTERS/Lindsey

By Nandita Bose, Gabriella Borter and Andrea Shalal

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Frustration with President Joe Biden and his Democratic Party over their perceived lack of leadership on abortion rights is likely to add fuel to months of planned protests nationwide, activists said.

An unprecedented Supreme Court leak two weeks ago showed the conservative majority of justices may soon reverse the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling in 1973 that established abortion rights. Galvanized by the prospect, protesters marched across the country on Saturday, the start of what organizers said would be a "summer of rage."

Since the Supreme Court leak, the Biden administration and Democrats have not put forward a meaningful plan for dealing with such a decision, critics said. They urged Biden to take a more active, vocal role in a national response to the potential ruling.

“I would like to see the White House say,‘We are holding an emergency summit with every Democrat in this country because we are going to pass a federal law that guarantees abortion rights,’” said author and women's rights advocate Mona Eltahawy.

“I am astounded at the lack of urgency, generally, whether it is from the Biden White House or the Democrats at large,” she said.

Biden, a devout Catholic who has said he is personally against abortion but respects a woman's right to choose one, has been a reluctant ally on the issue, some activists believe, noting he rarely talks publicly about it.

Disappointment is compounded by the sense that Democrats had plenty of time to prepare. Conservatives have been open about their goal of a total ban on abortion for decades, and women's rights groups have sounded alarms about the consequences of a conservative majority on the Supreme Court for years.

"Their constant solution is, ‘Well, just vote in November.’ I cannot stress to you enough how offensive it is to be asked to hope...that they win in November, they take office in January and eventually they come up with a solution,” said Renee Bracey Sherman of We Testify, an organization that promotes open discussion about abortion.

Women in the United States have shifted to the Democratic Party in recent decades. Some 56% of registered women voters identified as Democrats or Democratic-leaning in 2018 and 2019 polls, up from 48% in 1994, according to Pew Research.

Democratic women polled last year by Reuters and Ipsos said abortion rights was the issue that would make them angriest if the government moved against their views. About 60% of Americans overall say abortions should be legal in some or all cases.

The threat of the Supreme Court restricting abortion access despite popular opposition and the importance of the topic to women voters illustrates how ineffective Democrats are, critics, including some elected officials, said.

"Where is the Democratic Party?" California Governor Gavin Newsom asked in the days after the May 2 leak. "Why aren't we standing up more firmly, more resolutely? Why aren't we calling this out? This is a coordinated, concerted effort (by Republicans). And yes, they're winning."

A Democratic bill to guarantee abortion rights failed in the Senate this week. There is little hope such a law will pass next year either, political strategists said, unless Democrats control 60 Senate seats after November's elections, a long shot, or Biden is willing to seek the end of a procedural norm in Congress known as the filibuster. It prevents them from passing a bill with a simple majority.

The White House has already ruled out what some women's rights advocates have held out as a last-chance option, expanding the Supreme Court to balance out the conservative majority of justices.

SURPRISE IN THE WHITE HOUSE

Across the Biden administration, officials were startled by the harshness of the draft court ruling's language, several told Reuters. Some had hoped that the Supreme Court would not fully dismantle the Roe v. Wade decision, but the draft left no doubt that was the intention.

Inside the White House, a sense prevailed that little could be done to overcome the pivotal opposition of Democratic Senator Joe Manchin to ending the filibuster, officials said.

Biden's Gender Policy Council, an advisory body on gender equality, is trying to push the president to act, outside groups and people involved in the meetings said.

Biden is weighing ideas including expanding access to medical abortion drugs to increasing funding for lower income women who need to travel for abortions.

However, "there's no clear, actionable, winnable plan on the table" about how to protect abortion rights nationally, one adviser to the White House on the issue said.

Biden also faces a generational gulf. Biden's rare remarks center on the Roe v. Wade ruling's focus on privacy, but many young millennial and Gen Z voters, those most likely to need abortion services, think differently, said Amanda Klasing, women's rights associate director at Human Rights Watch.

"Instead of privacy, there is a real embrace of telling your abortion story, to live your experience and not hide your experience," she said.

U.S. abortion rights advocates fuming over Biden, Democratic response to looming threat
 

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Comments (4)
John Hat
John Hat May 15, 2022 7:20PM ET
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Moloch worshippers across the country are very upset.
John Laurens
John Laurens May 14, 2022 8:07PM ET
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Women shifted toward dems back when ****was frowned upon past 8 or 10 weeks, but now with offing live humans, the freaks are losing all sane Americans. Teaching 4 year olds that ***is cool didn't help their cause either. THey brought this upon themselves.. Too freaky too fast.
John Laurens
John Laurens May 14, 2022 8:07PM ET
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uh-bor-shun & saw-doh-my
Chris Sundo
Chris Sundo May 14, 2022 7:58PM ET
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Women have the brains to be their own party for POTUS. And feel free to subcontract once-ago types of leaders for a second opinion or for a fee. Subcontracting is an old trick to expand the collective conscience of the power that be and thus make better decisions. -- You women CAN DO THE JOB.
Chris Sundo
Chris Sundo May 14, 2022 7:58PM ET
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Learn some lessons from the Yellow Crazy Ants, very interesting
Angus Malarkey
Angus Malarkey May 14, 2022 7:58PM ET
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roflmao...won't happen.
Forex Harbingers
ForexHarbingers May 14, 2022 7:58PM ET
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How do you figure that? When women cant even iterate a viable reason why ***should be considered healthcare when ***literally damages a womens reproductive system that can have massive long term effects. That doesnt sound like healthcare, sounds like the complete opposite. So sure, they can totally create their own party, but they wont win. Nice idea though for solving a problem that doesnt even exist.
Chris Sundo
Chris Sundo May 14, 2022 7:50PM ET
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Women need to form their OWN 'RESPONSIBLE PARTY' for POTUS. Quit voting for immature, out of touch with REALITY male leaders like Trump who attempt to curtail democracy, divide the country and abuse their powers for single-celled self enrichment, as was the case for Trump and now male leaders who are brainwashed by the old church that committed atrocities and abuse around the world, in such instances as where the Catholic Church apologizes for century of abuses in Canada's residential schools
 
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