Ahead of the 50th Anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade, Jennifer Klein, Assistant to the President and Director of the Gender Policy Council, Julie Chavez Rodriguez, Senior Advisor to the President and Director of the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, and Carmel Martin, Deputy Assistant to the President and Domestic Policy Advisor to the Vice President, convened legislative leaders from eight states where reproductive rights are on the line this session.
Since the Supreme Court overturned nearly five decades of precedent in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, President Biden has called on Congress to restore the protections of Roe as federal law and defended access to reproductive health care using executive action where possible.
At the same time, the Biden-Harris Administration knows this fight is being waged in the states, where local officials, state legislatures, attorneys general, governors, and courts are dictating whether or not women have the fundamental right to make deeply personal decisions about their own bodies. Vice President Harris has convened nearly 200 state legislators to discuss state-level attacks on reproductive rights and ways to bolster access to abortion.
Though more than a dozen states are already enforcing extreme abortion bans across the country, Republican state elected officials have made their agenda for the 2023 legislative session clear: use every tool available to restrict women’s access to health care, including in some cases potentially restricting access to contraception. Republican officials in Wisconsin continue to defend the state’s total abortion ban from 1849, a 174-year-old law that has no exceptions for rape or incest. In Texas, legislators are considering measures that would attempt to prevent women from traveling across state lines for medical care. And a Republican legislator in Oklahoma has introduced a bill that would punish women with felony charges for obtaining reproductive care.
In states across the country, legislators are fighting attempts to roll back reproductive rights. This session in Nebraska’s unicameral legislature, state Senators will determine whether to pass an abortion ban at six weeks of pregnancy – a time at which many women don’t even know they’re pregnant. In North Carolina, Governor Cooper has committed to defending reproductive rights, but Republican legislative leaders have passed rules enabling the Republican Speaker to call a veto override vote at any moment, including on an abortion ban.
During today’s meeting, White House Senior Officials thanked the legislators for their leadership in defending reproductive rights at this critical moment, and affirmed the Administration’s support and partnership in fighting restrictions to women’s health care.
State legislative leaders included:
- Florida Senate Minority Leader Lauren Book
- Florida Senator Tracie Davis
- Montana Representative Alice Buckley
- Nebraska Senator Megan Hunt
- North Carolina House Deputy Democratic Leader Ashton Clemmons
- South Carolina Senate Minority Leader Brad Hutto
- Texas Senate Minority Leader Carol Alvarado
- Virginia House Democratic Caucus Chair Charniele Herring
- Wisconsin Assembly Minority Leader Greta Neubauer
- Wisconsin Senate Minority Leader Melissa Agard