Biden and Harris paint Trump as freedom’s enemy at abortion rally in Virginia

President Joe Biden on Tuesday condemned abortion bans that have increasingly endangered the health of pregnant women, forcing them to grow sicker before they can receive medical care, and he laid the blame on Donald Trump, his likely Republican challenger in this year’s election.

“He’s betting we won’t hold him responsible,” Biden said to a crowd of hundreds of cheering supporters. “He’s betting you’re going to stop caring.”

“But guess what?” he added. “I’m betting he’s wrong. I’m betting you won’t forget.”

The rally with Vice President Kamala Harris came on the same day as the Republican primary in New Hampshire, where Trump aims to tighten his grip on his party’s presidential nomination, and it demonstrated how Democrats hope to harness enduring anger over abortion restrictions to blunt his comeback bid.

Roe v. Wade was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court less than two years ago in the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, a decision enabled by three conservative justices appointed by Trump.

“The person most responsible for taking away this freedom in America is Donald Trump,” he said.

The speech was Biden’s bluntest yet on abortion and the status of reproductive health, but it was disrupted several times by protests over Israel’s war in Gaza. One person shouted “shame on you!”

“This is going to go on for a while; they got this planned,” the Democratic president said as the protestors were escorted out one by one.

Biden and Harris were joined by their spouses, first lady Jill Biden and second gentleman Doug Emhoff, at Monday’s rally. It’s the first time the four of them have appeared together since the campaign began, a reflection of the importance that Democrats are putting on abortion this year.

Jill Biden told a story about a friend who became pregnant in high school, years before Roe v. Wade. The friend, she said, needed to get a psychiatric evaluation to be declared mentally unfit before she could get the abortion.

“Secrecy, shame, silence, danger, even death. That’s what defined that time for so many women,” she said. “And because of Dobbs that’s where we’re finding ourselves back again, refighting the battles we had fought.”

Emhoff told the crowd that the fight for abortion rights needed men as well.

“Reproductive freedom is not a woman’s issue,” Emhoff said. “It’s an everyone’s issue.”

The four of them spoke in front of a blue banner that spanned the width of the stage and said “Restore Roe” in bold letters. The crowd hummed with energy, chanting “four more years” and booing Trump’s name, a glimpse of the enthusiasm that has been largely missing from Biden’s low-key events since announcing his reelection campaign last April.

Biden was introduced by Amanda Zurawski, a Texas woman whose water broke only halfway through her pregnancy. Because Roe v. Wade had just been overturned, she was unable to get an abortion until she went into septic shock.

“What I went through was nothing short of barbaric. And it didn’t need to happen,” said Zurawski, who has also testified before Congress and sued Texas along with several other women. “But it did, because of Donald Trump.”

  • January 24, 2024
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