President Joe Biden has promised to expand access to abortion and contraceptives to counter a wave of state bans on the 51st anniversary of the Roe v Wade ruling.
On Monday (22 January), Biden denounced the Supreme Court’s 2022 decision to overturn the landmark ruling that legalised abortion across the country, saying it “ripped away” a “fundamental right” from the American people.
“I said on that day that Roe was overturned, the health and lives of women in this nation would now be at risk, and that has unfortunately proven to be true,” he said.
“They’ve been at risk. They’ve made them at risk, put them at risk.
“Today, in 2024 in America, women are turned away from emergency rooms, forced to travel hundreds of miles to get basic healthcare in another state that may have a different rule, forced to go to court to plead for help.”
President Biden said these Republican-imposed “dangerous abortion bans” put people’s health at risk, “force them to travel out of state for care” and “threaten to criminalise doctors”. He said this move to restrict abortions is “simply outrageous” and never should have happened in America, “period”.
“Their agenda is extreme and out-of-step with the vast majority of Americans,” he added.
He also reiterated his call for Congress to codify abortion access protections that had been provided by Roe v Wade, calling on politicians to “stop playing politics” with peoples’ “lives and freedom”.
The Biden administration then announced new actions to help Americans access vital healthcare, including abortion medication and contraceptives.
This included expanding no-cost contraception through the Affordable Care Act to help millions of people nationwide under new guidance from federal agencies. Federal employees, retirees, and family members will receive strengthened access to contraception under guidelines to insurers.
The Health and Human Services Department also is rolling out a plan to educate patients about the administration’s position that individuals are entitled to care for pregnancy-related emergencies – including abortion care in some cases – under the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act.
The department will also be speaking to healthcare providers to ensure “hospitals meet their obligations under federal law”.
In the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v Wade, various states – including Texas, Kentucky and Arizona – implemented abortion bans. There have also been legal battles to stop individuals fleeing from these states to access abortions.
Oliver Hall, trans health director for the Kentucky Health Justice Network, previously told PinkNews that it’s been an “incredibly stressful time” since Roe v Wade was overturned as the reproductive justice organisation has worked to ensure that trans, non-binary and gender non-conforming “Kentuckians have access to abortion” despite the bans.
“No one should have to leave the state of Kentucky to access legal abortion care, but that’s the situation we’re in,” Hall said.
Texas woman Kate Cox, who petitioned state courts to allow her to terminate her pregnancy because of a condition that gave her foetus very low chances for survival, entered a legal battle to fight the state bans. She eventually left the state to receive an abortion just before the Texas Supreme Court denied her case.
As a result of her battle for the vital healthcare procedure, she has been the target of abuse from right-wing and anti-abortion groups.