(Bloomberg) -- President Joe Biden warned that Republicans want to institute a nationwide ban on abortion as his administration directed universities to increase protections for students who obtain the procedure.
“Congressional Republicans are doubling down on an extreme position with the proposal for a national ban. Let me be clear what that means. It means that even if you live in a state where extremist Republican officials aren’t running the show, your right to choose will still be at risk,” Biden said Tuesday during a speech at the White House.
“Republicans in Congress want to pass a law to take away the right to choose for every woman in every state and every county. And there’s no pushing back from it,” he added.
Biden and his administration have sought to spotlight efforts to protect abortion access -- and Republican plans to limit it -- after the Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade earlier this year, the landmark ruling that had guaranted abortion rights for nearly 50 years. Biden has pledged to codify federal abortion protections into law if Democrats hold the House and gain enough Senate seats in the November midterms -- and his party has used the high court’s ruling to try to energize voters.
Democrats sensed an opening Monday after a report that Herschel Walker, the Republican US Senate candidate locked in a tight race against Georgia’s incumbent Democrat Raphael Warnock, paid for a girlfriend’s abortion 13 years ago. Walker denied the allegations -- reported in the Daily Beast -- in the “strongest possible terms.”
The Beast reported that the woman, whom it did not identify, provided a receipt from the abortion clinic as well as a “get well” card and a copy of a $700 check that she said Walker sent her after the procedure.
Republicans are standing by Walker, who has denounced abortion and expressed support for Senator Lindsey Graham’s proposed legislation that would prohibit the procedure nationwide after 15 weeks of pregnancy, with some exceptions. Former President Donald Trump, who encouraged Walker to run for the Senate, issued a statement backing him that said he had been “slandered.
Biden didn’t mention the allegations against Walker at Tuesday’s event.
The Department of Education issued new guidance Tuesday requiring universities to protect students who terminate their pregnancies from discrimination. The administration will also provide $6 million in new Title X grants to expand access to reproductive care.
“I want to be clear with college leaders in America: Access to contraception should not be in question. And access to health care, including reproductive health care, is critical to the well-being and success of our nation’s students,” Education Secretary Miguel Cardona said at the event.
The latest guidance -- coming about 100 days after the Supreme Court’s action -- could create regulatory questions for state-run universities. They may have to reconcile state restrictions on providing support for, or access to, abortions with federal regulations, tied to funding, that require academic accommodations for abortion-related medical needs.
The regulation is intended to allow students who seek abortions greater ease -- and additional protections -- when requesting a medically-excused absence from class.
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