Biden highlights Republican-led abortion restrictions in 100 days since Roe was overturned

The president met Tuesday with a task force on the issue.

October 4, 2022, 4:39 PM

A new Biden administration report on abortion access in the U.S. describes how widely the procedure has been curtailed in the roughly 100 days after Roe v. Wade was overturned, according to a memo obtained by ABC News.

The report, compiled by Jen Klein, the head of the administration's interagency task force on abortion access, was one focus of a Tuesday meeting that President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and Cabinet members convened to discuss the state of abortion care.

The report recapped efforts by Republicans to limit abortions in the wake of the Supreme Court's reversal of Roe in June, a ruling that allowed states to regulate or ban the procedure as they saw fit.

At least 15 states have since ceased nearly all abortion services. As a result, the report said, close to 30 million women of reproductive age now live in states with bans.

Biden warned of similar efforts in Washington.

"Congressional Republicans are doubling down on the extreme position with the proposal for a national ban," Biden said.

PHOTO: President Joe Biden speaks during a meeting of the reproductive rights task force, at the White House, Oct. 4, 2022, in Washington.
President Joe Biden speaks during a meeting of the reproductive rights task force, at the White House, Oct. 4, 2022, in Washington.
Susan Walsh/AP

Tuesday's meeting came as the White House works to drum up support for Democratic midterms candidates in the political fight to preserve or expand access to abortion and to call attention to the ways Republicans have banned or chipped away at the procedure, which polling repeatedly shows is unpopular with voters.

But the task force gathering also served as a reminder of what the Biden administration has yet to do -- or says it cannot do -- on abortion access, which has fueled criticism from advocates and some others in his party.

The new White House report describes a bill to codify Roe into federal law as the only way to protect women's access, but the memo acknowledges this unlikely reality, given Democrats' current narrow majority in the Senate.

"Republican elected officials at the state and national level have taken extreme steps to block women's access to health care," Klein writes in her report for the president and vice president, noting Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham's proposal to ban most abortions nationwide after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

PHOTO: President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris chair the second meeting of the Task Force on Reproductive Healthcare Access, at the White House, Oct. 4, 2022, in Washington.
President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris chair the second meeting of the Task Force on Reproductive Healthcare Access, at the White House, Oct. 4, 2022, in Washington.
Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

"The result is that in 100 days, millions of women cannot access critical health care and doctors and nurses are facing criminal penalties for providing health care," Klein wrote.

Graham has contrasted his call for a ban with "radical" Democrats and said his "legislation is a responsible alternative as we provide exceptions for cases of rape, incest and life and physical health of the mother."

Biden called Graham's bill a threat to "every women, in every state and every county."

"Even if you live in a state where extremist Republican officials aren't running the show, your right to choose will still be at risk, because the Republicans in Congress want to pass a law to take away the right to choose for every woman in every state and every county," he said.

He called on Americans to elect more Democrats in November so that Congress could codify Roe vs. Wade into law, something he acknowledged they were "a few votes short on."

"The only way it's going to happen is if the American people make it happen," Biden said.

But particularly after a lag in reaction time after the high court's initial ruling came down, many advocates have continued to voice frustration that Biden hasn't done more, they say, to work to protect abortion rights.

At the last task force meeting, for example, the president signed an executive order that the administration said would help low-income women pay for abortion services.

As a result of the order, the administration said, Medicaid would cover abortion-related costs for women who have traveled from states where abortion is banned to states where it is not.

But the implementation has been slow and details on next steps have been sparse. It's unclear if states will enroll in the program, or how many women it will aid in getting abortion care.

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