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White House fires back at ‘out of step’ activists fuming over Biden’s response to abortion ruling

The White House is blasting progressives who “have been consistently out of step” with the Democratic Party amid criticism that President Biden’s response to the overturning of Roe v. Wade has been too little, too late. 

The White House defended Biden’s handling of the Supreme Court decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which overturned the constitutional right to an abortion on June 24, while progressive Democrats have called for a number of responses, including packing the Supreme Court, ending the Senate filibuster, declaring a public health emergency, and launching abortion clinics on federal property.

“Joe Biden’s goal in responding to Dobbs is not to satisfy some activists who have been consistently out of step with the mainstream of the Democratic Party,” outgoing White House communications director Kate Bedingfield fired back in a statement Saturday. “It’s to deliver help to women who are in danger and assemble a broad-based coalition to defend a woman’s right to choose now, just as he assembled such a coalition to win during the 2020 campaign.”

“The president has been showing his deep outrage as an American and executing his bold plan — which is the product of months of hard work — ever since this decision was handed down,” she said.

BIDEN TO SUPPORT ENDING FILIBUSTER TO PROTECT ABORTION ACCESS

While Bedingfield declined to name the activists, progressive Democrats like Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., have called on the president to do more in the wake of the Dobbs decision. 

Warren recently called on Biden “to make abortion as available as possible with the tools he has, including medication abortion, including using federal lands as a place where abortions can occur.”

“This is a crisis of legitimacy and President Biden must address that,” Ocasio-Cortez said in a recent interview.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., speaks during a rally for immigration provisions to be included in the Build Back Better Act outside the U.S. Capitol, Dec. 7, 2021 in Washington.

Biden has called for “an exception to the filibuster for this action to deal with the Supreme Court decision,” much like he did in January when he was pushing for federal voting rights legislation. 

The president also signed an Executive Order Protecting Access to Reproductive Health Care Services on Friday, which includes a measure protecting access to medication abortion. Under the new order, Biden will instruct the Department of Health and Human Services to “take additional action to protect and expand access to abortion care, including access to medication that the FDA approved as safe and effective over twenty years ago.”

U.S. President Joe Biden addresses the Supreme Court’s decision on Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization to overturn Roe v. Wade  June 24, 2022 in Cross Hall at the White House in Washington, DC. 

Vice President Kamala Harris recently signaled, however, that providing abortions on federal lands is not an option being considered by the White House.

The president had an unprecedented window of time – nearly two months – to prepare his response to the overturning of Roe v. Wade after the Supreme Court’s draft opinion in the Dobbs case was leaked to Politico and published May 2. Some Democrats and activists have been critical that the time between the historic leak and the ruling had been wasted.

A Washington Post article cited multiple sources over the weekend saying Biden’s team was unprepared for the timing of the Dobbs decision after they incorrectly assumed it would be handed down later, and that activists and progressives complained the president’s response lacked the passion and urgency needed for the issue.

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