First Lady Jill Biden said Tuesday that ongoing legal fights over the legality of abortion in several states “go far beyond the right to choose” as pregnant women face “devastating consequences to their health, their fertility and their lives.”
Biden’s comments came during a discussion with four women ahead of a formal event at the White House Saturday marking the one-year anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which overturned Roe v. Wade and returned the legality of abortion to the states. The case was decided on June 24, 2022.
“The consequences of these bans go far beyond the right to choose,” the first lady told the women. She then claimed doctors were denying some women medical treatment due to new laws imposed by state governments barring abortion procedures “because they don’t know which procedures are legal.”
“And like those who are with us today, far, far too many women are experiencing devastating consequences to their health, their fertility and their lives,” the FLOTUS added.
Jill Biden said President Biden “is doing everything he can to fight back,” but is urging Congress to send him legislation that will “make the protections of Roe v. Wade the law of the land once again.”
“I know that it isn’t easy to relive what you’ve already gone through, but stories like yours are how we shed light on the cruel and devastating consequences of those bans,” she told the women.
Biden’s guests included women from Texas, Florida and Louisiana, who shared emotional stories of being denied medical care during their pregnancies.
One of the women, Anya Cook of Florida, said she was denied medical care when she was 16 weeks pregnant as her state passed a 15-week abortion ban. The incident “very, nearly killed” her, she said.
After her water broke at 16 weeks, doctors said her baby wouldn’t survive without amniotic fluid but “because she was beyond 15 weeks and there was still a heartbeat, they couldn’t touch me or treat me or admit me,” Cook said. “They sent us home to deal with it ourselves.”
Within days, she lost her daughter to a miscarriage. Cook is attempting to hold those who changed the law accountable.
“We don’t know if I can get pregnant now or carry to birth, but the target of our wrath is very well-known: It’s the people who have taken our human rights to health and liberty and personal autonomy,” Cook said. “Someone needs to fight back against these insidious laws in states across the country.”
Another woman in the discussion was Dr. Austin Dennard, from Dallas, who said she decided to have an abortion but “this time I would have to flee my own state,” she said.
She joined a lawsuit filed by other Texas women who were denied abortions.
“The state of Texas should not be making these decisions for me, let alone anybody else,” Dennard said at the White House.
The Biden administration is planning several events this week to mark the anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision.
President Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, the first lady and Harris’ husband Doug Emhoff, are scheduled to appear at an event on Friday in Washington.
Harris is also scheduled to deliver a speech on Saturday in North Carolina on the Biden administration’s efforts to safeguard reproductive freedom.
Immediately after the Supreme Court’s decision, 18 states enacted partial or full abortion bans.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.