Biden’s moves to abortion haven’t calmed the ongoing anger
Watching furiously as the Supreme Court dismantled a constitutional right for nearly 50 years, Democratic activists and activists have implored the White House to do everything in its power to ensure people continue to have access to abortions.
They see President Biden’s announcement last week that he supports a spin-off to end the Senate filibuster to codify abortion rights at the federal level as a step in the right direction, but it did little to calm their anger.
“One would actually think that this decision hasn’t even been leaked because it seems quite clear that there hasn’t been any real planning on the part of the White House,” said Max Burns, a progressive strategist working on voting races ahead of the midterms. earlier this summer is a draft decision to overthrow Roe v. Wade leaked. “I don’t know how to be surprised by a pre-announced decision!”
“Every senior official who speaks about our post-Roe nightmare seems to have a different narrative,” he continued, “which is a sign that there is no narrative at all.”
“Sorry,” Burns concluded, “that’s a point of immense anger.”
Burns is not alone. Feeling frustrated that the Biden administration has not done enough to protect women during this crucial precedent-educating process, the court overturned the landmark abortion-rights decision.
Hours after the decision, Biden delivered an impassioned speech about the verdict, calling it a “tragic mistake.”
“This decision must not be the last word. My administration will use all of its reasonable, lawful powers, but Congress must act,” Biden said.
But the speech did not calm many. And the progressive response was particularly loud.
Lawmakers and activists on the left have called on Biden and his entire White House to send Americans a clear message of urgency about the importance of the ruling and to provide a unified roadmap of practical options to help people gain access to the full spectrum of reproductive health to receive health care.
On Thursday, the President appeared to be taking a new direction.
During a global press briefing, Biden called on the tightly controlled Democratic majority in the Senate to change their longstanding filibuster rule to protect Roe’s status. That would allow Democrats to pass legislation without a Republican vote.
“I think we need Roe v. Wade into law, and the way to do that is to make sure Congress votes for it,” he said at a NATO conference in Madrid, Spain. “If the filibuster gets in the way, it’s like voting rights, we should make an exception for that.”
Finally, declared liberals, a step in the right direction. Some acknowledged that the President and his administration seemed to get the message.
“Now let’s talk!” Ocascio-Cortez tweeted after Biden’s testimony. “Time for people to see a real, powerful push for this. Use the bully pulpit. We need more.”
The administration also received praise after the Department of Health and Human Services launched a website designed to help people find contraceptives and abortion services.
“I think we’re starting to see some more concrete steps, and definitely more of that,” said Bethany Van Kampen Saravia, a senior legal and policy adviser at the global reproductive justice organization Ipas.
“I definitely wouldn’t necessarily say they’re flat-footed,” she added, referring to the administration.
But the anger probably won’t go away. Progressives have warned that the decision could result in Democrats losing the House and Senate unless they mobilize accordingly, and many believe more steps need to be taken in the near term to speak to voters. Over the past few days, they have raised concerns about everything from privacy in health data-sharing apps to the closure of abortion centers in critical conditions.
In the absence of a sufficiently urgent national response from the White House, progressives have, according to some on the left, drawn renewed attention to polls and ads to compound the issue.
In a poll conducted by MoveOn and obtained exclusively by The Hill, likely voters in four battleground states — Arizona, Georgia, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin — overwhelmingly support abortion access and disapprove of the decision to overthrow Roe, evidence that that the Democrats are circulating to show how the verdict at the ballot box can work in their favor.
In Arizona, one of Democrats’ biggest targets in the midterm elections and one that Biden won in 2020, 60 percent of likely voters surveyed said they think abortion should be legal.
In another sign of the ruling’s potential campaign importance, a number of pro-choice liberal organizations launched large-scale ad buys in major swing Senate states, including Nevada, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.
This outreach is intended to supplement areas where administration may be falling short, some say.
“The president can’t force anyone to do it,” said Democratic strategist Antjuan Seawright.
“The executive has a role to play. Legislative and judiciary [branch] plays a role. The judicial [branch] is aware of their role. It’s supposed to be annoying,” he said.
“Now we have to clean up the legislature, especially the United States Senate.”
Still, some Democrats say the impulse to blame the Senate — from inside the White House down — has become something of a crutch in the debate. While it’s true that two moderates, Sens. Joe Manchin (DW.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), have complicated much of Biden’s agenda by standing by the filibuster, some say Bidenworld need to be more vigorous planning and response.
“The White House can rightly blame Manchin and Sinema (and 50 GOP senators) for the Senate deadlock,” Burns said, “but that doesn’t explain an inch why the White House doesn’t seem to have a clear narrative or plan of action of its own.” .”
“They keep sending Kamala Harris out to shame in front of national audiences by broadcasting messages that the White House then seems to abandon altogether,” he said.
Earlier this week, Harris, who had struggled to find a solid footing during her tenure as vice president, said “not now” when asked on CNN if administration officials are considering the option of granting access to abortion services on states Line that pitted her against progressives like Ocasio-Cortez, who called it one of several “baby steps” that could be taken, even in Republican-controlled states.
But others defending the government described much of the discontent among progressives as “online noise,” which isn’t necessarily true for many Democratic voters.
These voices take solace in knowing that voters did indeed pick Biden from other candidates to lead the country away from Trump and believe the president deserves some breathing room during his first term.
“They line up or dance to the activists’ tune,” Seawright said of Progressive. “And yes, that’s important, but that’s not always the most important thing, because governing and campaigning can be two different things.”
Certainly the anger is not confined to the left wing.
Even some Republicans have wondered aloud why the opposing party hasn’t taken steps to codify the ruling for the past five decades.
“Democrats, what have you been doing all these years not codifying Roe?” said Rina Shah, a GOP agent who founded Republican Women for Biden in the last election.
While some far-right GOP candidates and lawmakers on Capitol Hill cheered the SCOTUS move, others expressed private shock that Democrats are now in this position.
“I have no respect for those judges because they didn’t have to do that,” she said.