Roe v. Wade: Democrats Work on Plan to Restore Reproductive Freedoms

Analysis: On the 51st anniversary of the one-time abortion protection law, the Biden Administration says it is attempting to undo the damage of abortion bans.

At the start of this week, the country was confronted once again with the reality that reproductive freedom for American women is still being challenged. Monday (Jan. 22) marked the 51st anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 landmark Supreme Court decision that granted women the right to an abortion if needed or desired. It gave women legal protection to terminate any unwanted pregnancy in all 50 states. 

But after the Supreme Court repealed the decision in 2022, what followed could only be described as devastation, chaos, and confusion. Women became unsure of what reproductive services their states still allow and have had to resort to all kinds of measures to receive basic reproductive care. Other women began to live in fear and suffer in silence. Instead of seeking care, they choose to risk their lives, afraid of being arrested or prosecuted in court. They simply try to avoid the publicity of such an incredibly private matter. 

The situation was suddenly even more tenuous for low-income women of color, who typically don’t have the support or means to go across state lines to receive reproductive care because, where they live, it’s now illegal.

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A Huge Issue in the 2024 Election 

Reproductive freedom is guaranteed to be a hot-bed topic of conversation going into this upcoming presidential campaign. Anti-abortion enthusiasts will no doubt stand behind Republican front-runner Donald Trump, who prodigiously dusts his shoulders off when taking responsibility for the restrictions that are currently in place. 

"Across our nation, women are suffering, and let us be very clear about who is responsible,” said Vice President Kamala Harris at a campaign rally in Manassas, Virginia, on Tuesday (Jan. 23). “Former President Trump hand-picked three Supreme Court justices because he intended for them to overturn Roe."

On the other side, President Joe Biden and Harris are both pushing the reproductive agenda to the top of their lists. The Biden/Harris campaign has recently released a new 60-second ad they’ve titled, “Forced, with real women talking to voters about how the repeal of Roe v. Wade has put their lives at risk. 

This week, Harris also kicked off her nationwide “Fight for Reproductive Freedoms” tour in Wisconsin, where she spoke passionately about the harm and chaos extreme abortion bans are causing throughout the country. 

“We trust women to make decisions about their own bodies. We trust women to know what is in their own best interest. And women trust us to fight to protect their most fundamental freedoms,” said Harris at the rally.  

A Meeting of Minds 

President Biden has gathered agencies in his administration (the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services/HHS and the Department of Justice/DOJ) to create the Task Force on Reproductive Healthcare Access, where they have announced plans to protect access to reproductive health care. Convening for the fourth time since coming together, this group has the audacious task of helping the most marginalized women find calm in this storm. This week, they met with and heard from physicians who are in the trenches every day, navigating the minefield of reproductive care. 

And, to be clear, the issue doesn’t start and stop with just abortions. The Task Force is also mandated to create solutions to address access to affordable contraception, provide more comprehensive education on patients rights to emergency medical care, and provide access to legal and safe medical abortions, all while providing support to patients as they seek services to do so.

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White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre spoke to about Biden’s efforts to push back against efforts to halt reproductive rights.

“This is the fourth time the President is meeting with the task force. He actually announced it right around the time Roe was overturned,” said Jean-Pierre.

“They’re meeting to talk about ways that the federal government can help. You have to remember that these are deeply personal decisions that women are making and they're not easy decisions. We should be able to make those decisions without a politician involved.

"Roe v. Wade was a constitutional law for almost 50 years at the time when it was overturned by the Supreme Court. It was the law of the land, and it gave women protection. Now, think about the 21 states that have abortion bans in effect. Think about how it's affecting 27 million women of reproductive age who live in those states.

"You think about the 380 state bills that were introduced just last year. You think about congressional Republicans, who have proposed three national abortion bans," she continued. "If you look at our community, Black and Indigenous women are already two to three times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than white women. These are the horrifying stories we’ve been hearing about since 2022.”

There are other stats that are even more shocking. A new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association estimated that since the repeal of Roe v. Wade, 519 981 rapes have resulted in 64,565 pregnancies in 14 states that have an abortion ban. Texas alone had more than 26,000 rape-related pregnancies in just 16 months after the state banned abortions without even adding an amendment to the law that makes an exception for survivors of rape or incest. 

Biden's Task Force is looking for a way out, around and upside down. Jean-Pierre says some relief could come in the form of EMTALA, a very specific HHS policy that requires doctors to offer their patients’ necessary stabilizing care in emergency medical situations, including abortion care.

“EMTALA is incredibly complicated, so we want to make sure people have an understanding in a more comprehensive way,” she said. 

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 22: White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre attends the daily press briefing at the White House on January 22, 2024 in Washington, DC. Jean-Pierre spoke on the Roe v. Wade decision anniversary and reproductive rights.
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre

“We have a plan out there to help folks understand what that means if they're put in a situation where they have to really get an abortion through EMTALA. Another thing is making contraception more readily available, which is really important, but the way that we have to deal with this really, truly is to make Roe the law of the land, and that is through legislation.”

Despite the nationwide bans and what Republican leaders are purporting, Jean-Pierre believes that the majority of Americans want to see women have the right to make decisions about their own bodies. In order to make Roe v. Wade stick again, it will take more than just your heart’s desire. Congress needs to know how you feel.

“As women of color, we are very aware that we have to stand up for ourselves when it comes to making sure we have our rights,” said Jean-Pierre. “Reach out to your congressional representatives and let your voices be heard about legislation that is going to restore Roe. Be a part of the solution. And let me tell you, when congressional members get those types of phone calls from their constituency, they listen!”

Wendy L. Wilson is executive editor of

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