President Joe Biden has yet to meaningfully address the unprecedented attacks on abortion access, or even say the word “abortion” out loud. And now unnamed Democrats are concerned that voters don’t quite understand the gravity of the threat to Roe v. Wade ahead of a giant Supreme Court decision and November’s midterm elections.
Politico reports that “Democratic pollsters, campaign operatives and candidates argue that the party needs to act more aggressively ahead of the high court’s decision and not wait until the ruling is handed down. Key to making this reality stick, they say, is President Joe Biden.”
You don’t say! It’s quite the time to be suddenly realizing this.
Roe has been nullified in Texas for nearly eight months, thanks to the egregious six-week abortion ban that the Supreme Court let take effect, and the Biden administration hasn’t done much of anything about it—or address the abortion ban tsunami that will follow the SCOTUS decision. If Roe falls, two dozen states could move to ban the procedure.
In response, there have been no abortion boats or other mobile clinics, no leasing of federal land to abortion providers, no challenges to state restrictions on medication abortion. Just one lawsuit against the Texas law, which failed, and more money for birth control in Texas.
Apparently the White House has discussed some options in recent weeks, like letting people use their Medicaid coverage if they have to travel from a hostile state to a friendly one to get an abortion—but we’re hearing about them from anonymous sources in Politico, not from the leader of the country.
Some state officials are trying to make clear what’s at stake: For instance, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, filed a lawsuit to challenge her state’s pre-Roe ban so it can go into effect if the high court overturns Roe. But other lawmakers and advocates say it’s long past time for the president to say and do more.
“We absolutely need [Biden’s] voice now,” Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul told Politico. “I know he has a lot on his plate right now as leader of the free world. But certainly the voice of the president is important to this. A whole lot more people are going to listen to what Joe Biden says as opposed to Kwame Raoul.”
Jennifer Klein, co-chair of the White House Gender Policy Council, said the Biden administration knows that “people are not really focused or absorbing what is about to happen,” something she chalks up to the country being in “an unprecedented moment.”
Some people hoped that Biden would address the crisis during his State of the Union address, and while Biden was the first Democratic president since the Roe decision to call for action on abortion during his State of the Union, he did it in the most bland, least specific way possible. (Though, to be fair, there were big changes to the speech after Russian invaded Ukraine.) He said:
The constitutional right affirmed in Roe v. Wade—standing precedent for half a century—is under attack as never before.
If we want to go forward—not backward—we must protect access to health care. Preserve a woman’s right to choose. And let’s continue to advance maternal health care in America.
Buddy, you’re gonna need to do better than that! Meanwhile, advocates, clinics, and abortion funds in hostile states are trying to raise awareness and money for an uncertain future, all by themselves. Perfect system, no notes.