(Bloomberg) -- President Joe Biden told an audience of abortion-rights advocates the only way to restore Roe v. Wade’s protections is for Congress to pass legislation, urging them to keep the issue front-and-center in the 2024 election.
Biden on Friday spoke at a campaign-style event, where he received the endorsement of three powerful abortion-rights groups, Emily’s List, Planned Parenthood Action Fund and NARAL Pro-Choice America — part of a White House push to mark Saturday’s one-year anniversary of the US Supreme Court’s Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization ruling overturning the right to an abortion.
“The court got Roe right 50 years ago and I believe Congress should restore the protections of Roe v. Wade once and for all. But we need your help,” said Biden. “Are you with us? Are you going to get this done?”
Biden was joined by First Lady Jill Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff, who all spoke. Biden took the stage to upbeat music and cheers from the audience, along a backdrop of American flags and a Biden-Harris 2024 sign.
Abortion rights played an outsized role in last year’s midterms leading to better-than-expected results for Democrats. The party is aiming for a repeat in 2024 by again appealing to suburban women, independents and young voters angered by the ruling.
Read more: Democrats’ 2024 Plan Aims to Stoke Voter Angst Over Abortion
“MAGA Republicans have made clear that they don’t intend to stop with the Dobbs decision. No, they won’t, until they get a national ban on abortion,” Biden said. The president has hammered Republicans for new restrictions on abortion and limits on the use of medications like mifepristone.
According to AdImpact, which tracks political ads, mentions of abortion in political advertising saw a 500% increase in 2022 compared to 2020. Abortion was mentioned in ads that aired 1.1 million times — up from 175,000 in 2020.
Read more: Political Ads Mentioning Abortion Jumped 500% After Court Ruling
Harris, the White House’s most vocal advocate for protecting abortion rights, will address a rally in North Carolina on Saturday.
“I do believe this is a moment when we are seeing a national agenda, which is a full-on attack on so many of our hard-won rights and freedoms that we thought were long settled,” she said at Friday’s event.
Abortion remains a liability for Republican presidential candidates, who have supported the Supreme Court overturning Roe but been largely wary of offering policy specifics for fear of alienating centrist or women voters in a general election.
On Friday, a number of candidates spoke at the Faith and Freedom Coalition’s annual policy conference in Washington, a cattle call for 2024 contenders.
Former Vice President Mike Pence urged other candidates to join him in supporting a ban on abortions after a pregnancy reaches 15 weeks. And he criticized others, such as his onetime boss, former President Donald Trump, who have said the Republican position on abortion cost the party congressional seats in the midterms.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and Trump have highlighted the challenge for Republican candidates.
DeSantis, whom polls show running behind Trump for the GOP nomination, enacted a six-week ban on abortions in his state, among the most restrictive laws in the country. But DeSantis has rarely discussed abortion on the stump and only briefly touched on it Friday, saying his decision to sign the bill was “the right thing to do.”
Earlier: DeSantis Vows War Against ‘Woke Ideology’ If Elected in 2024
Trump, the GOP frontrunner, has not said what kind of federal abortion limits he would support. Trump instead has touted his work appointing three of the conservative justices to the Supreme Court who voted in favor of overturning Roe.
Pressure from Left
Biden is facing pressure to do more to protect access to abortion and contraception.
A Thursday letter from a Justice Department gender-equality advocacy group urged the administration to provide leave for civil servants traveling for abortion care and to cover the costs if employees live in a state where access is restricted.
“The federal government should lead the pack, not lag behind,” the group wrote, referring to private employers who have already extended such benefits.
The administration Friday rolled out an executive order instructing federal agencies to find ways to make contraceptives more affordable and protect access under private insurers. It follows other orders aimed at protecting patient privacy over reproductive care services and the right to travel out-of-state to seek care.
NARAL’s Mini Timmaraju, president of the organization, in an interview said the order is a step, but Democrats need a trifecta in Congress and the White House.
“We’re confident about the House. We’re a little more worried about the Senate,” she told Bloomberg News.
--With assistance from Zoe Tillman and Ryan Teague Beckwith.
©2023 Bloomberg L.P.