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Biden, Harris target Trump, Republicans on abortion rights

In World
January 23, 2024

WASHINGTON/WISCONSIN – US President Joe Biden and Vice-President Kamala Harris on Jan 22 took aim at Republican curbs on abortion rights, a galvanising issue for Democrats that they hope will boost enthusiasm among their base, attract independent voters, and increase turnout in November.

Women in America face a new “cruel reality,” Mr Biden said, because of new laws curbing reproductive rights, ahead of a meeting on the topic at the White House on Jan 22. The day marks the 51st anniversary of Roe v. Wade, which recognised a woman’s constitutional right to abortion before that was overturned by the US Supreme Court in 2022.

“Today in 2024 in America, women are turned away from emergency rooms,” forced to travel hundreds of miles to get healthcare or to plead in court for help, Mr Biden said, referring to state rules blocking women from receiving abortions when their lives could be at risk or for non-viable pregnancies.

“They turned a deeply private and painful matter into a public matter,” Mr Biden said of Republicans. “These extreme laws have no place, no place, in the United States of America.”

Ms Harris, kicking off a national tour on abortion rights in the key battleground state of Wisconsin, blamed former US president Donald Trump for helping reverse US abortion rights.

“The former president hand-picked three Supreme Court Justices because he intended for them to overturn Roe. He made a decision to take your freedoms and it is a decision he does not regret,” Ms Harris told a rally outside Milwaukee.

Trump’s picks shifted a court that had been ideologically deadlocked with four liberals and four conservatives to a solid conservative majority.

Wisconsin, which Mr Biden won by 20,600 votes over Trump in 2020, is considered crucial to Mr Biden’s reelection prospects. Trump is on track to be his top Republican rival again in 2024.

The Biden campaign is putting abortion rights front and center in 2024, and argues abortion access is a personal freedom that former Trump and Republicans are denying women. Anti-abortion advocates, with the backing of Christian evangelical groups, argue abortion ends the life of a human being and that stricter limits are needed at the state and national level.

Republicans have issued restrictive abortion laws in nearly two dozen states since the Supreme Court reversal of abortion rights.

“We are not yet done,” March for Life President Jeanne Mancini said in Washington on Friday.

On Jan 23, Mr Biden and Ms Harris, along with first lady Jill Biden and second gentleman Doug Emhoff, will then make their first joint campaign appearance of 2024 at a rally for abortion rights in Virginia, where Democrats recently won control of the state legislature.

Democrats are holding events on Monday highlighting abortion rights in states that will decide the US presidential election in November, including a Phoenix, Arizona, mayor’s press conference and events with Pennsylvania’s members of Congress.

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