Ahead of 2024, White House Offers Support to Allies in Battles for Reproductive Rights

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Pro-abortion demonstrators gather at the State Capitol to mark the 50th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that had established a right to abortion until it was overturned last year, in Madison, Wisconsin, U.S. January 22, 2023. REUTERS/Eric Cox/File Photo
Pro-abortion demonstrators gather at the State Capitol to mark the 50th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that had established a right to abortion until it was overturned last year, in Madison, Wisconsin, U.S. January 22, 2023. REUTERS/Eric Cox/File Photo

WASHINGTON DC – The Biden administration is taking a proactive stance on women’s reproductive rights by offering legal and messaging advice to allies in states pushing for restrictions. The White House has divided state-level fights into three categories: “extremist,” “access battleground,” and “proactive” states, and established approaches for each. The administration is hoping to expand on the success that Democrats had in the midterm elections by making abortion access a rallying cry in the upcoming presidential election.

The Gender Policy Council, an inter-governmental affairs team and Vice President Kamala Harris’s office are spearheading the effort, regularly holding strategy meetings with local elected officials, activists, and reproductive rights groups. The White House is leaning on key lawmakers and backing legislation to expand abortion rights, with North Carolina being a special focus. The administration is also coordinating with national organizations working to defeat potential bans and using press contacts to spotlight legislative fights at critical moments.

Since the Supreme Court repeal of the Roe v. Wade ruling last summer, Republican-controlled states have been pushing to further restrict abortion access, while states run by Democrats are enshrining protections in new laws. The White House sees the issue as an opportunity to energize Democratic voters and stave off some defeats for the party in the midterm elections. Edison Research exit polls found that for one-quarter of voters, abortion was the primary concern and 61% opposed the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade.

The White House’s work on issuing talking points and messaging have also been a “big help,” says Florida State House Democratic Leader Fentrice Driskell. Harris, who won praise from grassroots Democrats for her frequent defence of abortion rights during the midterm campaign, is a key part of the current White House effort. Her visit to Indiana during a special legislative session last summer sparked state-wide debate on how to draw the lines on abortion access.

The White House’s latest initiative has caught the attention of state lawmakers for the level of support offered by the administration. Despite the Republican National Committee’s urging of affiliated lawmakers and campaigns to go on the offence of abortion, the White House is hoping to protect and expand access while fighting restrictions in states across the country. – Reuters