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Democrats hit Trump on abortion in key US election states

Abortion rights activists rally after the US Supreme Court struck down the right to abortion, in Miami, Florida, on June 24, 2022
Abortion rights activists rally after the US Supreme Court struck down the right to abortion, in Miami, Florida, on June 24, 2022 - Copyright AFP/File CHANDAN KHANNA
Abortion rights activists rally after the US Supreme Court struck down the right to abortion, in Miami, Florida, on June 24, 2022 - Copyright AFP/File CHANDAN KHANNA
Frankie Taggart and Danny Kemp

Democrats blitzed target states Tuesday with a campaign to mobilize voters on reproductive rights ahead of November’s US election, highlighting efforts by Donald Trump and the Republicans to curb abortion access.

House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries headlined a “field hearing” in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, a day after a ruling by the state’s Supreme Court paved the way for a six-week abortion ban to come into effect next month.

Meanwhile President Joe Biden’s election campaign launched an ad reminding voters of Trump’s role in ending the federal right to abortion.

Conservatives have been seeking to enact severe curbs on reproductive health care nationwide since the US Supreme Court — bolstered by three Trump appointees — gutted abortion access in 2022.

Republicans claimed victory in the ruling — which overturned the nearly 40-year-old “Roe v. Wade” precedent — and quickly enacted strict bans or restrictions in most states they control.

But a comfortable majority of Americans think abortion should be legal in most cases, according to extensive polling, and around half of states have measures in place to protect access.

“Florida is now ground zero in the fight to protect a woman’s freedom to make her own reproductive healthcare decisions,” Jeffries said at the hearing in Fort Lauderdale, attended by health secretary Xavier Becerra.

The Florida ruling makes it one of the most restrictive states, prompting Biden — only the second Catholic president in US history, after John F. Kennedy — to warn that many women do not yet know they are pregnant at six weeks. 

“Yesterday’s extreme decision puts desperately needed medical care even further out of reach for millions of women in Florida and across the South,” he said in a statement.

In a move that tempered activists’ dismay over the ban, Florida’s high court also decided that November’s ballot can include an amendment enshrining abortion rights in the state’s constitution. 

It would permit abortions until “viability,” or about 24 weeks, as is supported by the 60 percent of Floridians it would need to pass, according to early polling. 

– Democrats target ‘winnable’ Florida –

Since Roe fell, abortion rights advocates have won seven straight referendum victories.

Meanwhile, Republicans have struggled to stake out a definitive position on the issue, and were punished in the 2022 midterm elections as candidates lost key battlegrounds to rivals supporting abortion rights.

Trump criticized Florida’s ban when he was competing for the Republican presidential nomination against the Sunshine State’s popular governor, Ron DeSantis, who signed it into law.  

The 77-year-old former president gets a vote on the ballot initiative as a Florida resident, but hasn’t said whether he will support it. 

Democrats are giving women’s bodily autonomy top billing again in 2024, characterizing Trump as the architect of attacks on reproductive rights in a long-shot bid to make Florida competitive in the state’s Senate race.

The Biden campaign argued in a memo that Florida is “winnable” if abortion remains “front and center” in the election. 

And in a new 30-second ad launched Tuesday, the campaign shows Trump bragging about overturning Roe v. Wade, part of a $30 million effort targeting voters in the swing states. 

“Because for 54 years they were trying to get Roe v. Wade terminated — and I did it. And I’m proud to have done it,” Trump is seen saying.

Vice President Kamala Harris warned that millions of women in Florida and beyond would experience the “cruel reality” of traveling hundreds or thousands of miles to get abortions, while doctors would be threatened with prosecution “for doing their jobs.”

“It is not enough that millions of women in America have fewer rights than their mothers and grandmothers,” said Harris, who has led a nationwide tour to highlight the abortion issue.   

“Yet, if Donald Trump has his way, he’ll gut abortion care in every state across the country — and he has the plans to do it.”

AFP
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With 2,400 staff representing 100 different nationalities, AFP covers the world as a leading global news agency. AFP provides fast, comprehensive and verified coverage of the issues affecting our daily lives.

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