Amid a nationwide onslaught of anti-abortion bills whose reach and cruelty seem to be expanding at ever-increasing rates, Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) announced Wednesday that, if elected president, he would create a White House Office of Reproductive Freedom on his first day in the White House.
“Republican-controlled state legislatures across the country are mounting a coordinated attack on abortion access and reproductive rights,” he said in a statement.
“A coordinated attack requires a coordinated response. That’s why on day one of my presidency, I will immediately and decisively take executive action to respond to these relentless efforts to erode Americans’ rights to control their own bodies.”
The Office of Reproductive Freedom would aim to use legislative might to “codify Roe v. Wade into federal law,” as well as push for more comprehensive reproductive rights and health care access more broadly, “including maternal and infant health, quality, affordable child care, and comprehensive paid family leave.”
Booker’s plan also calls for the end of the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits the use of federal funds to pay for abortion and, by extension, means a woman or gender minority whose health is at risk if they carry a pregnancy to term cannot use Medicaid to cover the abortion.
The measure “has had a disproportionate impact on abortion access for women who already face barriers to accessing health care, including women of color and low-income women,” he said.
Across the country, access to safe, legal abortion is under attack as a spate of “heartbeat bills” — drafted by men who have demonstrated exactly zero understanding of female anatomy, pregnancy, or childbirth — are being signed into law.
These bills ban abortion after the sixth week of pregnancy which, as anyone who knows literally anything about how pregnancy works could tell you, is before most people even know they are pregnant. Heartbeat bills were just signed into law in Georgia and Ohio.
Last week, Missouri’s Republican-led Senate passed a bill that would ban abortions after eight weeks, including in cases of rape and incest; doctors who perform these abortions would face five to 15 years in prison.
Alabama will be home to the strictest abortion laws in the nation when the ban its governor just signed goes into effect in six months: It will make abortion a felony. Any doctor who performs one would be punished by up to 99 years in prison in virtually all cases (there are no rape or incest exceptions here, either).
Along with his fellow 2020 hopefuls, Booker has spoken out against these bills. The day before Booker’s announcement, pro-choice activists across the country held #StopTheBans rallies organized by Planned Parenthood Action Fund, the ACLU, NARAL Pro-Choice America, and others.
James Baldwin once wrote in a letter of solidarity to Angela Davis, “if they take you in the morning, they will be coming for us that night.” Abortion access isn't just a fight for women, it’s for all people to ensure control of our own bodies. #StopTheBans pic.twitter.com/KJeM6kKum1
— Cory Booker (@CoryBooker) May 21, 2019
Over 500 events were held Tuesday on statehouse steps, in front of courthouses, and, the centerpiece of the action, outside the U.S. Supreme Court, where Booker was one of a handful of Democratic would-be nominees to participate. Also present at the rally were Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT), Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), and Pete Buttigieg, mayor of South Bend, Indiana.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), meanwhile, has called on Congress to pass federal laws protecting access to contraception and reproductive care, and to repeal the Hyde Amendment.