The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

Biden rolls out new reproductive guidelines on the 51st anniversary of Roe v. Wade

by Una Cleary
A Chicago abortion rights rally on Oct. 8, 2022. Protests broke out throughout the country following the overturning of Roe v. Wade in June 2022.

President Joe Biden announced new guidelines for abortion and contraceptives on Jan. 22, on the 51st anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision. He called for increased access to Federal Drug Administration-approved contraceptive medications in a meeting with his Task Force for Reproductive Healthcare Access.

Biden’s new guidelines come as he ramps up his campaign for the 2024 presidential election. According to an NBC poll, abortion has become a leading issue in the presidential election for single-issue voters.

Aurelia Flynn, a DePaul senior majoring in political science, says she has been paying attention to reproductive laws in her home state of Texas, where all abortions have been banned except in life-threatening circumstances.

“I know that even at the church that I grew up going to, they have 40 Days for Life or … just overall talk about (abortion) as being this egregious moral crime,” Flynn said. The “40 Days” initiative is a campaign that aims to end abortions through prayer and fasting. “I would say that kind of motivates me to … dispel rumors.”

Biden’s initiative aims to strengthen access to contraception and ensure that FDA-approved medications, such as the abortion pill mifepristone, will be free under the Affordable Care Act.

The federal Department of Health and Human Services also said doctors in all states must perform abortions as an emergency service under the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act.

Vice President Kamala Harris is going on a nationwide “Reproductive Freedoms Tour” to support reproductive rights, which started in Wisconsin Jan. 22.

Biden has ramped up his support for reproductive rights since the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision in June 2022. The landmark decision overturned Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey. The decision held that the right to abortion was not protected by the constitution and each state could regulate abortion.

Benjamin Epstein, a DePaul political science professor, said Biden, who is a devout Catholic, was not vocal about his personal feelings about abortion, even though his policies are pro-choice. Historically, his administration and Vice President Harris have been spokespeople for reproductive rights.

“This is a proven motivating feature for Democratic voters and even for independent voters and some voters that hadn’t really voted before,” Epstein said. “And so now President Biden … is becoming a bit more vocal about it himself and (it) seems like that would only continue moving forward.”

Nikki Haley, GOP presidential candidate and former U.N. ambassador, has taken a pro-life stance on abortion through her campaign. She has supported letting states decide their own reproductive policies and said in a debate that she wants to “save as many babies as we can, and support as many moms as we can.”

Former President Donald Trump, considered to be the Republican front-runner, also has a pro-life platform and has called himself the “most pro-life president ever.” During his term, he appointed three U.S. Supreme Court justices who helped overturn Roe v. Wade. In an interview with NBC, Trump said he would try to negotiate a compromise between the two parties on reproductive policy if elected.

Mary Kate Zander, the executive director of Illinois Right to Life, a pro-life organization, said Americans who oppose abortion want a candidate who will continue the work Trump did during his term.

Under President Trump or Nikki Haley, pregnant women and new moms would receive far more resources, support and protection than they currently do,” Zander said. “Babies in utero would likewise receive more protections, as they’d be given the same rights as human beings outside of the womb, rather than treated like slaves or animals.”

Since the Dobbs decision, 21 states have full or partial abortion bans in place. Abortion rights have remained protected at all stages of pregnancy in seven states.

Katie Stanczykiewicz, the director of government relations for Planned Parenthood Illinois Action, said vocal support from Biden will help them provide better care to their patients since reproductive healthcare is in a “tricky place.”

“I think abortion is something that is very widely talked about right now in national media, state media, and we need to keep it that way,” Stanczykiewicz said. “Having the support from the president, federally, makes it an issue that sticks in people’s minds and makes people remember that when they go to the ballot box.”

Epstein, the DePaul political scientist, does not think Biden or the Democrats in office will be able to codify Roe into law again because of how divided the country is.

“Previously, you would have some moderate Democrats who would be considered pro-life and some moderate Republicans who would be considered pro-choice,” Epstein said. “That is virtually nonexistent today.”

In Illinois, abortion is legal until fetal viability, when the fetus is able to survive outside the uterus. Gov. J.B. Pritzker has voiced his support for reproductive rights and started Think Big America in October 2023, an organization that will promote ballot measures to codify abortion rights.

Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson also released a statement on the 51st anniversary of Roe v. Wade reaffirming his commitment to protecting reproductive rights in Chicago.

“We must continue to advocate for policies that protect reproductive rights, support comprehensive sex education, and ensure affordable and accessible healthcare for all,” Johnson said in his statement.

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