Biden Abortion Moves Haven’t Appeased Progressives!
Democratic operatives and activists have been begging the White House to do everything it can to make sure people can still get abortions after the Supreme Court took away what had been a constitutional right for almost 50 years.
They think that President Biden’s announcement last week that he supports a carveout to end the Senate filibuster and make abortion legal at the federal level was a step in the right direction, but it didn’t stop their anger.
“You’d genuinely think this decision hadn’t even leaked because it seems very clear there has been no real planning from the White House,” said Max Burns, a progressive strategist working on down-ballot races ahead of the midterms, referring to the leak earlier this summer of a draft of the decision overturning Roe v. Wade. “I don’t know how you get caught by surprise on a pre-announced decision!”
“Every senior official who speaks about our post-Roe nightmare seems to have a different narrative,” he went on, “which is a sign there is no narrative at all.”
“Sorry,” Burns concluded, “this is a point of immense fury.”
Burns is not alone. The sense of frustration that the Biden administration hasn’t done enough to protect women during this crucial, precedent-unraveling the court overturned the landmark abortion rights decision.
Hours after the decision, Biden gave an impassioned speech about the ruling, in which he lambasted it as a “tragic error.”
It is important that this decision not be the last word. My government will use all of its legal and appropriate abilities,” Biden declared.
But not many people were calmed by the speech. And the response from the left has been especially loud.
Lawmakers and activists on the left have asked Biden and the rest of his White House staff to tell Americans in a clear, urgent way what the ruling means and give them a clear set of practical options to help them keep getting all kinds of reproductive health care.
On Thursday, it seemed like the president changed his mind about something.
During a global news conference, Biden asked the Democrats in the Senate, who only have a narrow majority, to change the long-standing filibuster rule to protect Roe v. Wade’s status. So, Democrats could pass a bill without any votes from Republicans.
“I think Roe v. Wade should be written into the law, and the way to do that is to get Congress to vote for it,” he said from a NATO meeting in Madrid, Spain. “If the filibuster gets in the way, it should be treated like voting rights and be an exception.”
Liberals who didn’t hold back said that this was finally a step in the right direction. Some people agreed that the president and his government seemed to be getting it.
“Now we’re talking!” After Biden’s speech, Ocasio-Cortez sent out a tweet. “People need to see a strong, really push for it. Use your big voice. More is needed.”
When the Department of Health and Human Services put up a website to help people find contraceptives and abortion services, this was also praised.
“I think we are starting to see more concrete steps, and we need more of that,” said Bethany Van Kampen Saravia, a senior legal and policy adviser at Ipas, a global organization for reproductive justice.
“I definitely wouldn’t say they’re flat-footed,” she said, referring to the government.
But it’s unlikely that the anger will go away. Progressives have said that the Democrats could lose the House and Senate if they don’t take action, and many people think that more steps need to be taken right away to reach voters. In recent days, they have worried about everything from the privacy of apps that share health data to the closing of abortion clinics in important states.
Some people on the left think that the White House isn’t responding quickly enough on a national level, so progressives have been using polls and ads to bring more attention to the issue.
In a poll done by MoveOn and given to The Hill exclusively, most likely voters in Arizona, Georgia, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin support access to abortion and don’t like the decision to overturn Roe. This is a point that Democrats are using to show how the ruling can help them at the polls.
In Arizona, which was one of the most important states for Democrats in the midterm elections and which Biden won in 2020, 60 percent of likely voters said that abortion should be legal.
Several liberal pro-choice groups bought a lot of ads in key Senate states like Nevada, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania, which is another sign that the ruling could be important on the campaign trail.
Some say that the outside work is meant to make up for places where the government might fall short.
Antjuan Seawright, a strategist for the Democrats, said, “The president can’t make anyone do anything.”
“The executive branch does something. Both the legislative and judicial branches are important. The role of the judicial branch is clear. He said, “It’s to cause trouble.”
“We need to clean up the legislative branch now, especially the United States Senate.”
Still, some Democrats say that blaming the Senate has become something of a crutch in the debate, from the White House on down. Even though two moderate Democrats, Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), have made a lot of Biden’s plans harder by not giving up on the filibuster, some people say Bidenworld needs to plan and respond with more force.
Burns said, “The White House can rightly blame Manchin and Sinema (and 50 GOP senators) for the stalemate in the Senate, but that doesn’t explain why the White House doesn’t seem to have its own clear story or action plan.”
“They keep sending Kamala Harris out to be embarrassed in front of national audiences with messages that the White House then seems to give up on completely,” he said.
This week, Harris, who has had a hard time finding her footing as vice president, said “not right now” when asked on CNN if administration officials are thinking about giving access to abortion services on federal lands. This put her at odds with progressives like Ocasio-Cortez, who called it one of several “baby steps” that could be taken, even in Republican-controlled states.
Others, on the other hand, who were defending the administration, said that much of the unhappiness among progressives was just “online noise” that didn’t necessarily make sense to many Democratic voters.
These voices find comfort in the fact that voters chose Biden over other candidates to lead the country away from Trump. They also believe that the president deserves some breathing room during his first term.
Seawright said of progressives, “They find themselves lining up or dancing to the tune of the activists.” “Yes, that’s important, but it’s not always the most important thing, because running for office and running a government are two different things.”
Sure, the anger isn’t just coming from the left.
Even some Republicans have said out loud that they don’t understand why the other party hasn’t already taken steps to make the decision official in the last 50 years.
“What were you Democrats doing all these years when you didn’t put Roe into law?” Rina Shah, who worked for the GOP and started Republican Women for Biden during the last election, said this.
Some far-right GOP candidates and lawmakers on Capitol Hill were happy about the Supreme Court’s decision, but others have privately said they can’t believe the Democrats are in this position now.
She said, “I don’t respect these judges, because they didn’t have to do this.”
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