Biden campaign hosts discussion of abortion rights in advance of presidential election

President Biden delivering his State of the Union address in March.
President Biden delivering his State of the Union address in March.

The Biden campaign hosted a number of North Carolina student journalists Thursday morning for a virtual discussion of the role reproductive rights will play in the upcoming presidential election.

Moderated by Natalie Murdock, Democratic state senator representing North Carolina’s 20th district, the event featured insights from Amanda Zurawski and Kaitlyn Joshua — two women who were personally affected by the overturning of Roe v. Wade in the summer 2022 Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization Supreme Court decision.

“In the year and a half since [former president Donald] Trump overturned Roe, Trump and his allies’ extreme agenda has had devastating effects across the country,” Murdock said. “Women’s lives are put at risk, doctors are threatened with prosecution and jail time simply for doing their jobs and abortion bans enacted with no exceptions for rape and incest are popping up all over the country.”

North Carolina currently has a 12-week abortion ban on the books, with additional requirements like two-trip mandates and telehealth prohibitions making it difficult for many patients to access care. According to Murdock, the state serves as a crucial resource to those seeking abortions from elsewhere, as many states across the South have stricter bans in place.

North Carolina’s gubernatorial front-runners are diametrically opposed in regards to the abortion issue, with Democrat Josh Stein prioritizing “women’s freedom” in his campaign platform and Republican Mark Robinson setting a “next goal” of banning abortion at six weeks in the state.

Joshua shared her story of struggling to access critical abortion care in her home state of Louisiana, where a near-total ban went into effect in June 2022.

In the fall of 2022, Joshua became pregnant with her and her husband’s second child. She noted that she encountered delays when trying to access prenatal medical care, as many facilities enacted new policies that limited their provision of care to expectant mothers who had already reached the 12-week threshold in order to “avoid potential legal liability for medical providers.”

However, just before Joshua reached the 12-week mark where she could be seen for her first prenatal appointment, she began experiencing signs of miscarriage. She drove herself to the hospital, where a medical team informed her that the fetus had stopped growing.

“The one thing they would not tell me was whether I was having a miscarriage. It was obvious that that term was off limits … so they sent me home saying they would pray for me,” Joshua said.

Joshua returned to the hospital the next day after her pain and bleeding intensified, where she faced continued barriers until ultimately receiving care.

“I’ve received hundreds of letters from women across Louisiana who’ve had similar experiences and [from] women across the country where we know in other states this is happening,” Joshua said. “We are simply asking for the most basic level of maternal healthcare.”

Zurawski had a similar experience. She and her husband fell pregnant in 2022 after undergoing multiple rounds of IVF treatment, and she expressed that they were “absolutely over the moon.”

Unfortunately, Zurawski encountered “catastrophic complications” at around the 18-week mark. She was told by doctors that she would lose her daughter “with 100% certainty.”

“What I needed at that point was an abortion so I could safely, and with dignity, deliver my daughter and begin the healing process, both physically and emotionally,” Zurawski said.

Zurawski could not receive that care because of the near-total abortion ban in her home state of Texas from a 2021 trigger law that went into effect after the Dobbs ruling. She was forced to wait until her life was in immediate danger before her doctors could provide healthcare without facing legal repercussions, which meant three days of excruciating pain and two crashes from septic shock.

“It was in that dark and lonely hospital room where I realized that I was actually lucky because I lived,” Zurawski said. “What I went through was nothing short of barbaric, and it did not need to happen — but it did because of Donald Trump.”

Zurawski cast doubt on Trump’s recent comments in response to the Arizona ruling, in which he claimed he would not sign a national abortion ban and pronounced the matter to be one of states’ rights.

“In my mind, [he] is endorsing all of these extreme bans across the country,” Zurawski said. “He is a proven liar, and I think his track record speaks for itself.”

The Thursday event was part of a multi-state tour to promote the campaign’s abortion platform, which begins in North Carolina with stops in Durham, Charlotte and Winston-Salem.

North Carolina was identified by the Biden campaign as a priority battleground state, with the president making two appearances in the state already in 2024. North Carolina also saw visits by Harris and First Lady Jill Biden in March, and the campaign is in the process of opening 10 field offices across the state.

Murdock promoted Democratic presidential nominee President Joseph Biden and his running mate Vice President Kamala Harris as “the only candidates that will protect a women’s right to choose.”

In advance of Biden’s March 7 State of the Union address, the White House released a fact sheet outlining the president’s current policies and past actions in support of national protection of abortion access. Agenda priorities included defending access to emergency medical care, safeguarding the privacy of patients and healthcare providers, ensuring access to accurate information and legal resources, supporting the ability to travel for abortion care and strengthening access to contraception.

Multiple states have recently seen new restrictions on abortion access. The Arizona Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that an 1864 law banning abortion in nearly all circumstances is enforceable; meanwhile, Florida’s Supreme Court upheld a 15-week abortion ban in an April 1 ruling that paves the way for a 6-week trigger ban to take effect in May.

“Everyone will be affected by these bans,” Joshua said. “An abortion ban anywhere is a threat to reproductive justice everywhere.”

Zoe Kolenovsky profile
Zoe Kolenovsky | News Editor

Zoe Kolenovsky is a Trinity junior and news editor of The Chronicle's 120th volume.


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