Sunday marks the 50th anniversary of the Supreme Court ruling that secured a nationwide right to abortion, but it also marks seven months since the justices overturned the landmark Roe decision. v. Wade decision.

And the White House is trying to show that it is determined to restore abortion rights, even if there is little chance of progress on that front in Washington.

Vice President Kamala Harris is leading the Biden administration’s push on Sunday with a speech in Florida, where Democrats fear a new attempt to restrict abortion by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis.

“America is the land of the free and the home of the brave,” Harris plans to say, according to excerpts of his speech. “But let’s ask: Can we really be free if a woman can’t make decisions about her body? Can we really be free if a doctor can’t take care of his patients? Can we really be free if families can’t make intimate decisions about the rest of their lives?”

Harris’ decision to speak in Tallahassee, the state capital, reflects how the battle lines have shifted since last summer. Now that there is no longer a national right to abortion, the debate on the issue will take place in individual government agencies, not in the halls of Congress or before the Supreme Court. Last week, White House officials convened top lawmakers from eight states to discuss pending legislation.

Also, after a better-than-expected showing in the November election, Democrats see abortion as a key issue for their party in 2024, when control of the White House and both houses of Congress is seized at the same time. DeSantis may seek the Republican presidential nomination, a first step toward challenging President Joe Biden, who has been preparing for a re-election campaign.

White House spokeswoman Karin Jean-Pierre said Florida is crucial because its abortion laws are less restrictive than its neighbors, making it a relatively safe haven for women in the region trying to end a pregnancy. But the Republican-controlled state government may consider more restrictions.

DeSantis’ office did not respond to a request for comment.

Biden said in a statement Sunday that “women should be able to make these deeply personal decisions without political interference. Still, Republicans in Congress and across the country continue to push for a national abortion ban, criminalization of doctors and nurses, and restrictions on access to contraception. It is dangerous, extreme and unaffordable.’

Celinda Lake, a Democratic sociologist who has worked with Biden, said the White House’s abortion strategy has three goals.

“You can create an atmosphere and put pressure on these states to make it difficult to pass draconian restrictions,” she said. Also, Lake said, “you can set the contrast to 2024” and “you can use that as a major motivator to get people to vote.”

Democrats concluded that the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade changed the political landscape in last year’s election, rejuvenating the party’s chances when analysts expected Republicans to prevail.

Democrats still lost control of the House and increased their majority in the Senate by just one vote, meaning legislation creating a nationwide right to abortion remains out of reach.

There are concerns that Biden and his administration have exhausted their options for executive action.

The Food and Drug Administration announced this month that birth control pills will become more available in pharmacies and by mail order. Pills can also be obtained at a virtual appointment rather than at the doctor’s office.

A legal battle is currently underway in federal court in Texas, where abortion opponents have sued to overturn decades of approved drugs.

“The administration is really looking at existing federal law and trying to use it,” said Lawrence Gostin, who directs the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health at Georgetown Law.

Not all the plans of the administration came true. Last year, Biden announced that states could apply to waive Medicaid dollars to pay for women’s trips for abortions. No waivers were required.

Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra declined to say why he believes states have not taken the administration up on its offer.

“I’ll let you talk to the different states,” he said Thursday. “We have made a proposal and continue to encourage people to find ways to make sure that no one loses access to health care.”

Becerra was in Minnesota, where Democratic leaders were finalizing legislation to codify abortion rights in the state legislature.

“We will continue to work with states like Minnesota that want to do what it takes to build protections into our laws that will forever prevent any American from losing access to health care,” Becerra said during a meeting with the Democratic governor. Tim Waltz and lawmakers.

The fight to protect access to abortion is playing out in courtrooms in 14 states with active lawsuits against abortion restrictions, according to an analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

The nonprofit health organization found that advocates typically use one of three approaches to mount legal challenges to abortion laws, arguing that the laws violate state constitutional protections, violate some states’ guaranteed rights to choose health care, or block religious freedoms.

It’s unclear which legal arguments might be most successful, since state supreme courts ultimately decide how accessible abortion will be. Meanwhile, abortion opponents are seeking avenues through the courts to further restrict abortions.

Renee Bracey Sherman, founder and executive director of We Testify, a group that advocates for women who have had abortions, said she was disappointed that Biden did not do more.

“The fact that he is absent during this public health emergency is truly embarrassing,” she said.

Smith, a Minnesota senator, last year along with Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Massachusetts, urged Biden to formally declare a public health emergency.

Biden has never done that, but Smith said she’s pleased with the steps he’s taken.

“It would be hard for me to point to anything they haven’t done, but they could have done with the public health emergency,” she said.

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