Biden aims anger at Trump on anniversary of abortion rights ruling

People protest in Scottsdale, Az., April 14. On Monday, President Joe Biden said Donald Trump was the "sole person responsible" for the Supreme Court abortion rights ruling on June 24, 2022.

People protest in Scottsdale, Az., April 14. On Monday, President Joe Biden said Donald Trump was the "sole person responsible" for the Supreme Court abortion rights ruling on June 24, 2022. (Rebecca Noble, Reuters)


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WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden's campaign on Monday will use the second anniversary of a Supreme Court's decision overturning abortion rights to spotlight an issue it believes can help defeat Donald Trump in this year's election.

Biden's team held a series of abortion rights events over the weekend and both Vice President Kamala Harris and first lady Jill Biden will speak at events on Monday, hoping to mobilize volunteers and voters around protecting the patchwork remains of abortion access in the country.

"Donald Trump is the sole person responsible for this nightmare," Biden said in a statement early on Monday.

He said the reversal two years ago of the landmark Roe v Wade ruling of 1973, which gave constitutional protection to abortion rights, has been "devastating."

"In states across the country, Trump's allies have enacted extreme and dangerous abortion bans — many with no exception for rape or incest — that are putting women's lives at risk and threatening doctors with jail time," Biden said.

Trump appointed three conservative Supreme Court justices during his 2017-21 presidency, forcing a change in the court's balance that led to the abortion ruling in 2022.

The unpopularity of the decision even in some conservative states made it a political liability for Republicans during mid-term elections in 2022 and also this year as Biden and Trump again face off in the presidential race.

Biden's team believes the issue of abortion rights could swing the tight Nov. 5 election his way.

Trump said in April that abortion laws should be set by individual U.S. states, stepping away from a national abortion ban that anti-abortion groups and some parts of his Republican Party have pushed for.

On Saturday, Trump addressed a crowd of evangelical voters at the Faith & Freedom Coalition in Washington. "We have also achieved what the pro-life movement fought to get for 49 years, and we've gotten abortion out of the federal government and back to the states," he said.

Some Republican lawmakers have introduced a resolution in the U.S. Congress celebrating the 2022 ruling, although it is unlikely to be voted on in a Senate controlled by Democrats.

Since the 2022 ruling, more than 20 Republican-led states have imposed restrictions.

Abortion access is now almost non-existent in Southern states, forcing tens of thousands of women to cross state lines for abortions, and a rise in medication abortion.

Carol Tobias, president of the National Right to Life Movement, said some Democratic-led states have "tragically" allowed for abortion services for women from other states.

"The blue (Democratic) states would not only continue the bloodshed, they would also accelerate the onslaught," she said.

Divisive issue

Women's rights groups are planning "women's strikes" in dozens of U.S. cities on Monday to mark the anniversary, urging women not to go to work or spend money, and to wear red and protest instead.

Jill Biden will travel to Pittsburgh and to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, a city Trump won by 15 points in the 2020 election, when he lost the presidency to Biden.

Harris will campaign in Maryland and swing state Arizona on Monday. Both have competitive Senate races in November.

On the other side of the divide, anti-abortion activists traveled to Washington over the weekend to celebrate the Supreme Court decision. The ruling was also lauded at a weekend "Celebrate Life" conference in the city.

Four years ago, Biden rarely mentioned abortion rights in his election campaign, fearing the issue could alienate moderate voters.

Now it is a key pillar of his re-election bid, the first time a U.S. presidential campaign has focused so intensely on the issue, although Biden himself will not campaign on Monday.

Biden and Trump remain tied in national polls with less than five months to go before the election, while Trump has the edge in the battleground states that will decide it, polls conducted after Trump's felony convictions show.

On economic issues like inflation, Trump scores higher with voters overall than Biden.

But polls and the results of state ballot initiatives have shown that a large majority of voters reject strict abortion bans.

Biden and Trump will debate on June 27, for the first time this election campaign cycle, and both campaigns have ramped up their attacks against each other ahead of the showdown.

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Nandita Bose

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