Biden, Brushing Off Gaza Protesters at Rally, Calls for Restoring Abortion Rights

President Biden headlined a rally in support of abortion rights on Tuesday, trying to focus on an issue that has galvanized his supporters even as he was interrupted every few minutes by at least 10 people protesting the war in Gaza, an issue that has just as quickly divided Democrats.

Mr. Biden, a practicing Catholic who has been a reluctant supporter of abortion rights, has leaned on Vice President Kamala Harris to be the most vocal activist in his administration. But on Tuesday, in front of a banner reading “Restore Roe,” Mr. Biden raised his voice to a yell in support of Roe v. Wade, which guaranteed a constitutional right to abortion before the Supreme Court overturned it in 2022.

His yelling also helped drown out the voices of people waving Palestinian flags, shouting “Genocide Joe” and demanding a cease-fire. “Please don’t jump,” he said to one protester waving a sign in a balcony.

“They feel deeply,” Mr. Biden said at another point. (The antiwar group CodePink later took credit for organizing the protest.)

The moment was a convergence of a promising election-year issue and another that has threatened to overshadow Mr. Biden’s presidency and dim his chances with more progressive corners of the Democratic electorate. Different portions of the crowd — supporters and protesters — were either clapping or screaming, illustrating the conflict in real time.

Faced with yelling protesters, Mr. Biden read quickly from his prepared remarks and did not respond to individual protesters the way he has at past events.

“We can make Roe again the law of America,” Mr. Biden said, his voice rising. “Are you ready to make it happen? To do that, we need a new Congress. Are you ready to make that happen?”

It was a striking appearance compared with Mr. Biden’s comments on the issue just seven months ago, when he told supporters of his re-election campaign that he was “not big on abortion” because of his faith, but that Roe had “got it right.” Navigating his personal beliefs, Mr. Biden has focused on the issue as one rooted in personal freedom and privacy.

The differing styles of the president and the vice president were on display beginning on Monday, when Ms. Harris held an event in Wisconsin to call attention to Republican-led measures in the state to institute an abortion ban from 1849. She criticized former President Donald J. Trump and asked the audience to applaud a couple who had been denied health care by doctors while experiencing pregnancy complications.

When he arrived for his rally on Tuesday afternoon, Mr. Biden met privately with Dr. Austin Dennard, who had to leave Texas to receive an abortion when her pregnancy developed complications.

He also met with Amanda Zurawski, who is suing the State of Texas after she was denied an abortion when her water broke at 18 weeks. She developed sepsis and said she nearly died from the infection. According to the Center for Reproductive Rights, which argued the case for Roe before the Supreme Court, 21 more women have joined as plaintiffs in that lawsuit.

“I had to wait until I got so sick until my life was considered in danger” before doctors would provide the abortion, Ms. Zurawski told the crowd of losing her daughter, whom she named Willow. “It took three days and a near-death crash into septic shock before my doctor could finally provide the health care I desperately needed,” she said.

Ms. Zurawski blamed Mr. Trump, who has bragged recently of overturning Roe. “It is unthinkable that anyone could cheer on these abortion bans that nearly took my life.”

She received a hug from Mr. Biden, who told the crowd that he would continue fighting for reproductive rights. But any sweeping abortion action remains unlikely given the divided control of Congress. Democrats lack the votes in the Senate, and Mr. Biden is unable to grant Roe’s protections through executive action.

His administration has tried to preserve access to the abortion drug mifepristone, but that quickly became mired in legal challenges. The Supreme Court announced that it would hear a case challenging the Food and Drug Administration’s approval of the commonly used pill.

The event on Tuesday was largely attended by volunteers and employees with abortion rights groups. Onstage, Mr. Biden and Ms. Harris were joined by Jill Biden, the first lady, and Doug Emhoff, Ms. Harris’s husband.

Mr. Emhoff has hosted events on reproductive rights and said on Tuesday that reproductive freedom was “not just a women’s issue, it’s an everyone’s issue.” Dr. Biden, who has rebuked “extremist Republicans” before, repeated a story she shared before the 2022 midterms of a friend who had gotten pregnant when abortion was illegal and had stayed with Dr. Biden’s family after the procedure.

“Secrecy, shame, silence, danger, even death,” Dr. Biden said, repeating the message she has shared before. “That’s what defined that time for so many women, and because of Dobbs, that’s where we’re finding ourselves back again,” she said, referring to the 2022 Supreme Court decision that overturned Roe.

Ms. Harris also echoed much of what she said in Wisconsin on Monday, sharing stories of women who had endured miscarriages in toilets because they were refused health care, and women who were turned away from emergency rooms because doctors were wary of providing care.

“Do we trust women? Do we believe in reproductive freedom? Do we believe in the promise of America?” she yelled, as members of the audience rose to their feet. “Are we ready to fight for it?”

Mini Timmaraju, the president of Reproductive Freedom for All — previously known as NARAL Pro-Choice America — said in an interview that she had seen Mr. Biden “evolve” on his support for abortion rights. But she said the Biden administration needed to do more to emphasize what is needed to codify Roe’s protections, and to warn of what could happen for reproductive rights if Mr. Trump won the presidency.

“We’re going to need everybody singing from the same songbook,” she said, and “talking about what a Trump presidency would do.”

Representative Jennifer McClellan, Democrat of Virginia, said that Mr. Biden and Ms. Harris had different campaign styles when it came to Roe, but that they both spoke to different parts of the Democratic electorate.

“I think they’re very different people with different styles on just about everything,” Ms. McClellan said. “But Democrats are not a monolith. This country’s not a monolith. We need people who can talk to every generation and every demographic group.”

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