The recent overturning of Roe v. Wade has reignited the debate over abortion in the United States, so as three Democratic presidential candidates gear up for the 2024 election, they are facing questions about their positions on privacy, women’s rights and reproductive freedom.
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., Marianne Williamson, and President Joe Biden—the three most prominent Democratic presidential candidates—all support a woman’s right to choose, but their positions on abortion differ in some key ways.
Since the Supreme Court abortion ruling, some states have instituted a near-total ban on the procedure, with the only exception being a danger to the life of the pregnant woman.
Williamson is a staunch supporter of abortion rights who believes that the procedure should be legal and accessible to all women, regardless of their income or circumstances.
She has also spoken out against the Hyde Amendment, which blocks federal funding for abortion under Medicaid, and notes that the prevailing Democratic political establishment has been ineffectual at defending women’s rights.
Women lost the right to choose while Biden sat in the White House, albeit as the result of a US Supreme Court ruling. Biden cannot escape some meadure of responsibility for the current composition of the top judicial panel, since he was in a postion to prevent it.
For decades, Biden was in a key position as chairman of the US Senate Judiciary Committee and vice president, but he failed to stop anti-abortion judges from getting appointed or passing a law to codify the provisions of Roe v. Wade. He was part of a jaded political establishment that did not codify the provisions of Roe v. Wade because top Democrats wanted to exploit the issue for fundraising. He was also part of the Obama administration, which failed to fight for a Senate confirmation after Merrick Garland was nominated.
The Supreme Court had ruled abortion a constitutional right in 1973, but women’s rights organizations and lawmakers wanted to make it clear in U.S. law that states would be prohibited from placing restrictions on the right defined in Roe v. Wade.
Democrats introduced the Freedom of Choice Act in January 1993 and within six months, it was amended, passed out of committee, and teed up for passage in the House and Senate before heading to President Bill Clinton’s desk for his signature.
In 2007, Barack Obama declared, “The first thing I’d do, as president, is sign the Freedom of Choice Act. That’s the first thing that I’d do.” As President in April 2009, Obama acknowledged that although he supported a woman’s right to choose to have an abortion, passage of the Freedom of Choice Act was not his “highest legislative priority” although Democrats controlled both the House and Senate.
Kennedy is also a supporter of abortion rights, but he believes that the government should do more to support mothers and families, such as providing universal free child care and economic relief for working families.
Noting that eight in 10 Americans support the right to safe and legal abortion, Kennedy believes being pro-choice and supportive of policies that help mothers and families are not mutually exclusive positions, and he would work to create a society where women have the freedom to make their own choices about their bodies and their families.
Kennedy says his policies would make it easier for women to choose to have children and would reduce the abortion rate.
Kennedy said that he feels the government should not be telling people what to do with their bodies and it should be up to the woman to make decisions about her pregnancy.
Ever since the Supreme Court handed down its decision discarding Roe v Wade, abortion rights activists have been calling on Biden to do more but the president’s initial reaction, an expression of sadness at the ruling and a call to vote Democratic in November’s midterm elections, was viewed by many as simply inadequate.
President Joe Biden has said enacting a federal law would be the “fastest way” to restore abortion rights as he signed an executive order that beefs up protection against potential penalties that women seeking abortion may face if they travel across state lines for the procedure, and protects access to contraception.
The executive order also attempts to safeguard access to medication abortion and emergency contraception, protect patient privacy, launch public education efforts as well as bolster the security of the legal options available to those seeking and providing abortion services.
The order also takes additional steps to protect patient privacy, including by addressing the transfer and sales of sensitive health-related data, and combatting digital surveillance related to reproductive health care services.
“The fastest route to restore Roe is to pass a national law codifying Roe,” said Biden, referring to the landmark 1973 ruling that guaranteed the constitutional right to an abortion.
“President Biden has made clear that the only way to secure a woman’s right to choose is for Congress to restore the protections of Roe as federal law. Until then, he has committed to doing everything in his power to defend reproductive rights and protect access to safe and legal abortion,” the White House said in a statement on Friday.
Whispers that Biden was not up to the moment, either because of advancing age or political disposition, have grown to the point that they couldn’t be ignored by the White House.
Presidential power on abortion is limited, particularly given the long-time congressional provisions that prohibit the federal government from spending funds to support the procedure – provisions that Biden himself once backed.
Opinion polling indicates that the public widely support maintaining the legality of abortion, even in states that have bans already on the books, but any sweeping measures Biden may take will face legal challenges, and the support for presidential action – from the American people at large, if not from his restive liberal base – may diminish if the public views the White House as exceeding its powers.
While Biden has failed to protect the right to choose, Kennedy and Williamson present a more apgressive