Health · August 3, 2022

Biden and Harris praise Kansas voters for rejecting anti-abortion amendment

Biden made his remarks virtually at the first meeting of the Interaction Task Force on Reproductive Healthcare Access while dealing with a rebound case of Covid-19 and after testing positive again Wednesday morning.

Vice President Kamala Harris, Attorney General Merrick Garland, Health Secretary Xavier Becerra, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and Veterans Affairs Secretary Denis McDonough also attended the meeting.

The failed Kansas Amendment comes as the Biden administration takes a step to protect pregnant people who travel to access reproductive care. Biden signed an executive order at the meeting Wednesday that would explore ways to protect pregnant people who need to travel abroad for an abortion if their state prohibits it.

The order directs Becerra to work with states to help people who need to travel out of state for reproductive health care. It also directs HHS to consider providing Medicare abortion procedure exemptions for pregnant people who must travel abroad for the procedure.

“What we do know is that at this moment, clarity is needed about the rights of individuals and states,” Harris said. “We know there are concerns about the type of support that is available in the form of federal funding to the various states that protect women’s rights and what our government can do to support it.”

Speaking of Tuesday’s election, Harris said, “The people of Kansas spoke up yesterday, and they spoke up loud and clear. You said this was not a party issue. The women of America should not be the subject of partisan debates or perspectives.”

“The people of Kansas have spoken, and so this is about defending the basic principles of freedom and liberty in America,” Harris added. “And they said loudly that they trust women when they make decisions about their own lives and bodies.”

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre also addressed the Kansas vote during her daily briefing.

“We’ve seen a lot of momentum in our fight to recover over the past 24 hours Roe,“She said. “Americans in Kansas have come out to challenge views that would push the country back, with fewer rights and politicians intruding on our most personal choices, and they won.”

The state’s rejection of the law change was quite an angry victory for abortion rights activists. Kansas is a state that voted twice for Donald Trump and registered Republicans outnumber Democrats almost 2 to 1.

“The President made that very clear to protect or codify our rights roe, we have to make sure our voices are heard,” said Jean-Pierre. “You saw that last night, you saw the power of the American people. This is incredibly important. What we saw last night was not to be expected.”

The administrative and abortion rights activists also filed lawsuits in Florida and Idaho on Tuesday, challenging restrictive anti-abortion laws in the respective states.
Religious groups are suing in Florida, claiming the state’s 15-week abortion ban violates constitutional rights to free speech, freedom of religion and the separation of church and state.

The Justice Department is spearheading the Idaho lawsuit, arguing that the state law violates federal law requiring physicians to provide pregnant women with medically necessary treatments, including abortion.

There were also two wins for both sides of the dispute this week in Michigan and Kentucky. On Monday, a Michigan judge prevented the state from enforcing a more than 90-year-old law that would ban abortions. On the same day, a court in Kentucky, just a few states south, reinstated a near-total ban on abortion.

“Ultimately, Congress must codify protection roe as federal law,” Biden said Wednesday. “And if Congress doesn’t act, the people of this country will have to elect senators and congressmen who will restore roe and will protect the right to privacy, liberty and equality.”