Washington, Aug 3 (EFE).- President Joe Biden said Wednesday that the result of the referendum on abortion in Kansas is a sign that in the mid-term elections in November, voters will cast their ballots to protect women’s right to choose to terminate their pregnancies if they so desire.
“The voters of Kansas sent a powerful signal that this fall the American people will vote to preserve and protect the rights, and refuse to let them be ripped away by politicians,” Biden said at the start of the first meeting of his administration’s task force on reproductive health care, a meeting in which he participated virtually since he is still self-isolating after testing positive for Covid-19.
Biden called upon Congress to restore Roe v. Wade protections, which were overturned by the Supreme Court in June.
“If Congress fails to act, the people of this country need to elect senators and representatives who will restore Roe and protect the right to privacy, freedom and equality,” he said.
Biden, who has received much criticism for allegedly not doing enough to defend the right to abortion, on Tuesday signed an executive order in which he instructed the Department of Health and Human Services to provide coverage for patients seeing “reproductive health services” in states where such services are legal.
The order comes just hours after Kansas voters cast their ballots in favor of keeping the right to abortion intact in their state in the first state referendum on the matter since in June the Supreme Court overturned the Roe v. Wade decision, thus eliminating the federal right to abortion and providing states with the authority to legislate on the issue.
The Kansas referendum was especially relevant because it could set a precedent for other states where Republican lawmakers are working to limit or eliminate abortion.
Present at the White House meeting on Wednesday was Vice President Kamala Harris, who said that the people of Kansas “spoke loud and clear. They said this is not a partisan issue … this is a matter of defense of basic principles of liberty and freedom in America … And they spoke loudly in saying that they trust women to make decisions about their own lives and their bodies.”
Also present was US Attorney General Merrick Garland, who insisted that the Department of Justice will respond to every one of the laws being implemented by the states, a fight that will include the filing of lawsuits like the one announced yesterday against Idaho.
In the first DOJ action against a state since the high court ruling, Garland’s department said that Idaho had put in place a law “criminalizing” doctors and preventing them from freely interrupting pregnancies when the life of the mother is at risk.
Garland also said that the DOJ would move to dismiss a Texas lawsuit against the administration’s guidance reminding healthcare providers that US law requires them to provide abortions in medical emergencies.
The meeting on Wednesday was the first public session of the administration’s working group on reproductive rights – a group made up of members of various US government agencies, created after the Supreme Court decision and dedicated to evaluating “the changing panorama” of state laws.
Biden’s executive order establishes that patients who are seeking reproductive health services will be covered by Medicaid, the federal program subsidizing medical care for low-income people.
It also seeks to guarantee that providers of medical services abide by non-discrimination laws, especially amid the chaotic scenario and uncertainty opened up by decision of the high court, where a 6-3 rightist majority holds sway.
The executive order also seeks to promote research and the collection of data on the effects on mothers’ health of reducing access to reproductive services.