Women’s Health Highlighted at ‘Restore Roe’ Election Event

by Vins
Published: Last Updated on

At a “Restore Roe” rally in Manassas, Virginia, President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris called for the restoration and protection of reproductive rights in the wake of the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization (2022), which overruled Roe v. Wade (1973) and Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992). As Gwendolyn Comai reported for the Feminist Majority Foundation, the rally “sent a vital message about how the nation’s overwhelming support for abortion rights will determine the outcome of the election.”

At the Manassas event, reproductive rights advocate Amanda Zurawski spoke personally about how the overruling of Roe v. Wade affected her health, resulting in a life-or-death experience. In Texas she was denied access to abortion after her water broke just 18 weeks into her pregnancy. “I was told to wait,” Zurawski told the rally’s participants. “I had to wait until I got so sick [with sepsis] that my life was considered in danger.” Her doctor was finally able to perform an abortion, but she spent three days in the intensive care unit fighting for her life.

Comai’s Feminist Majority Foundation report described Zurawski’s speech as “a sobering, emotional case for abortion access,” while noting that 21 states with Republican legislatures have moved to dismantle women’s health care after Dobbs v. Jackson. A 2022 report, produced by American Progress, cited research indicating that, if abortion is banned throughout the United States, the overall number of maternal deaths would rise by 24 percent, and as much as 39 percent for Black women with pregnancies.

Comai noted that Roe was decided on a right to privacy, but many feminist activists and legal scholars have called for an Equal Rights Amendment to the US Constitution, which would provide, in Comai’s words, “a strong legal foundation of sex equality” to protect a full range of reproductive healthcare, including women’s right to abortion.

Corporate news outlets covered the Biden-Harris campaign’s “Restore Roe” event, but that coverage focused more on election issues than women’s health. For example, the Wall Street Journal reported, “President Biden campaigned on abortion rights at his first political rally of 2024, blasting former President Donald Trump over the Supreme Court decision that eliminated the right to the procedure and calling on women to deliver him another term to protect access.” The WSJ report made no mention of how an Equal Rights Amendment would create a stronger foundation for reproductive health care. By contrast, the Feminist Majority Foundation focused on how women have been affected by existing abortion restrictions and would be further endangered by a more widespread ban.

Source: Gwendolyn Comai, “President Biden Hosts Restore Roe Rally in Virginia,” Feminist Majority Foundation, January 24, 2024.

Student Researcher: Patricia Martinez (City College of San Francisco)

Faculty Evaluator: Jennifer Levinson (City College of San Francisco)