MANASSAS, Virginia — Standing in front of a deep-blue backdrop with “Restore Roe” in large capital letters, President Joe Biden hammered former President Donald Trump’s record on abortion and warned against underestimating women voters at the ballot box in November.
The Tuesday rally was the first time Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, First Lady Jill Biden and Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff had appeared together since Biden announced his reelection campaign in 2023.
The joint appearance underscored the importance of abortion and reproductive rights for Biden and Harris as they face a competitive 2024 reelection campaign. The campaign is running on restoring the federal abortion protections the Supreme Court overturned in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health in 2022.
“Yesterday we remembered the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. Today is the day to call for action with your voice, with your power, with your vote,” Biden said. “We can restore the protections that had been around for 50 years.”
Biden, who for much of his 2020 campaign and the start of his presidency was hesitant to go after Trump by name, placed the blame for the Dobbs decision squarely at the hands of the former president who secured a conservative supermajority on the Supreme Court.
“Make no mistake: the person most responsible for taking away this freedom in America is Donald Trump,” Biden said. “Trump says he’s proud that he overturned Roe v. Wade. He says, and I quote, ‘There has to be punishment’ of a woman exercising her reproductive freedom. He described the decision as a ‘miracle’ for American women — it’s a nightmare.”
At the rally, Biden was introduced by Amanda Zurawski, a Texas woman who told her story of going into sepsis when she was unable to receive care for a nonviable pregnancy in the summer of 2022, after Roe was overturned.
Zurawski, who was one of the first lady’s guests at the 2023 State of The Union, is the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit of Texas women who say that, under the state’s strict abortion law, they were denied care for nonviable pregnancies that threatened their lives.
“What I went through was nothing short of barbaric, and it didn’t need to happen,” Zurawski said. “But it did because of Donald Trump. Over and over again, Donald Trump brags about killing people. It is unthinkable to me that anyone could cheer on these abortion bans that nearly took my life.”
Since the Dobbs decision, personal abortion stories have featured heavily in Democratic campaign ads and have been referenced by Biden officials.
Jill Biden recounted a story of growing up in the 1960s, pre-Roe, and having a high school friend who needed a psychiatric evaluation to declare her mentally unfit in order to receive an abortion. She called the recent stories she’d heard of women who have had to flee their states for care “heartbreaking.”
In a Monday appearance in Wisconsin and Virginia, Harris invoked the story of a Wisconsin woman, Meagan, who had to travel to Minnesota to receive care for a nn-viable and life-threatening pregnancy because doctors were afraid of prosecution under an 1849 abortion law.
Biden announced new actions on abortion and contraception access on Monday, but is pointing to his reelection and Democratic control of Congress as critical to secure federal abortion protections. Biden, who is Catholic, has not always been comfortable talking about abortion in public. But at three points in Tuesday’s speech, he criticized abortion bans and said he would veto one passed by a Republican Congress.
Biden also was interrupted by pro-Palestinian demonstrators at least half a dozen times during his speech. At one point, he quipped he was working to restore abortion access for everyone, including a woman “hollering.”
In 2023, Ohio voted to guarantee abortion in its state constitution, and Democrats running on fortifying abortion access have won elections in Wisconsin, Virginia and beyond.
Biden, referencing a line in Justice Samuel Alito’s majority opinion in Dobbs that “women are not without political or electoral power,” said, “No kidding.” Republicans, he added, “don’t have a clue about the power of women in America. But they’re about to find out.”
“One other person who doesn’t have a clue about the power of women in America is Donald Trump,” Biden continued. “I promise in 2024, he’s going to find out about the power of women.”