Healthcare

Biden reaffirms commitment to enshrining Roe v. Wade in federal law

President Biden marked the 48th anniversary of the Supreme Court's landmark ruling establishing the right to an abortion by reaffirming his support for enshrining abortion rights in federal law.

Biden ran on "codifying" Roe v. Wade, pushed by abortion rights advocates, as a response to the growing number of abortion restrictions passed by state legislatures in recent years and a federal judiciary that has been flooded with Trump nominees, including the Supreme Court.

"The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to codifying Roe v Wade and appointing judges that respect foundational precedents like Roe," the White House said in a statement Friday.

"In the past four years, reproductive health, including the right to choose, has been under relentless and extreme attack."

While the Trump administration was fairly limited in what it could do to restrict access to abortion, restrictions at the state legislature have proliferated in recent years.

Abortion is technically legal across the U.S., at varying points of pregnancy, but some states have so many restrictions on the procedure that it becomes a right in name only, advocates say.

"Nearly half a century later, abortion is a right in name only for millions of people across the country," Planned Parenthood President Alexis McGill Johnson said in a statement Friday.

Codifying Roe would make it harder for state abortion restrictions to pass legal muster, abortion rights advocates argue.

Abortion opponents argue such a move would interfere with states' rights to set their own rules on the procedure.

Doing so would also require congressional approval, which is unlikely with the Democrats' narrow majorities in the House and Senate.

Still, with a Democrat in the White House again, abortion rights advocates are pushing Biden to go further than protecting the status quo.

"As reproductive justice organizations have said for years, Roe is the floor, not the ceiling," McGill Johnson said. 

"Without access to abortion, this right is meaningless. Now is the time for President Biden and our elected officials in states across the country to take necessary and immediate action to ensure that everyone, no matter their race, income, or ZIP code, has access to safe and legal abortion."

Planned Parenthood and other groups are also pushing Biden to not include a federal ban on abortion funding - called the Hyde Amendment - in his budget proposals to Congress. 

When running for president, Biden rescinded his long-held support for the Hyde Amendment. The amendment is typically needed to get Republicans to support congressional appropriations bills.

In his statement Friday, Biden also said he is committed to eliminating maternal and infant health disparities and increasing access to contraception.

On Jan. 28, Biden will also order a review of the Trump administration's controversial changes to the Title X family planning program, which provides contraception and other services to low-income individuals.

Those changes required family planning providers participating in the program to stop providing or promoting abortions to remain eligible for funding. 

The rule, which has been in effect for more than a year now, resulted in Planned Parenthood and other providers leaving the program, meaning some states no longer have any Title X providers.

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