How Biden, others highlighted reproductive rights at the State of the Union

President Joe Biden highlighted reproductive rights issues as part of his State of the Union speech Thursday. Biden delivered his 2024 State of the Union address Thursday evening in front of a joint session of the U.S. Congress. He spoke of the war in Ukraine, job creation and a potential cap on prescription drugs. In […]

How Biden, others highlighted reproductive rights at the State of the Union

President Joe Biden highlighted reproductive rights issues as part of his State of the Union speech Thursday.

Biden delivered his 2024 State of the Union address Thursday evening in front of a joint session of the U.S. Congress. He spoke of the war in Ukraine, job creation and a potential cap on prescription drugs. In the midst of his speech, he referenced two guests sitting with First Lady Jill Biden connected to recent reproductive issues. One was an Alabama social worker who had to cease in-vitro fertilization treatments because of the recent Alabama Supreme Court decision last month that embryos harvested for IVF treatments are classifiable as children. He also highlighted Kate Cox. Cox sued the state of Texas to allow her to have an abortion when she learned the fetus she was carrying had severe abnormalities and carrying to term would put her life and her future fertility at risk. 

Cox had to leave Texas to receive her abortion. 

“There are state laws banning the right to choose, criminalizing doctors, and forcing survivors of rape and incest to leave their states as well to get the care they need,” Biden said during the speech. “Many of you in this chamber and my predecessor are promising to pass a national ban on reproductive freedom. My God, what freedoms will you take away next?”

U.S. Rep. Melanie Stansbury, a Democrat representing New Mexico’s 1st Congressional District, told NM Political Report that members of the congressional Reproductive Rights Caucus and the Democratic Women’s Caucus were featuring individuals on the front lines of the reproductive debate because abortion “is the issue on the ballot.”

That’s why Stansbury invited as her guest Dr. Destinie Marquez, an OB-GYN resident at University of New Mexico. Marquez was raised in the Roswell area and graduated from high school in Dexter. 

Marquez said her own encounters as a woman seeking healthcare motivated her to go into women’s healthcare. She said she is interested in opening a practice in Roswell after her residency ends in two years because of the reproductive healthcare desert in eastern New Mexico.

Marquez said she wants to provide abortion care and if that proves too difficult in eastern New Mexico due to anti-abortion politics, she would be willing to travel to a clinic elsewhere in the area a few days a week to provide the care. 

Some counties and municipalities in eastern New Mexico passed anti-abortion ordinances around a year ago. The New Mexico Supreme Court is currently considering the ordinances in light of the Reproductive and Gender-Affirming Health Care Act enacted last year.

Marquez said she has seen the effects of the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision and the subsequent state bans on abortion in her role as an OB-GYN resident at UNM.

She said she has seen abortion patients experience complications and require hospital stays because of being forced to remain pregnant longer than would be necessary if they had access to abortion care in their own states. Marquez said she has also seen individuals pregnant who required an abortion due to health complications who can’t get healthcare in their own states.

“The situations are devastating. They come here, the pregnancy was wanted but the fetus cannot live or they have a life threatening condition. We’re seeing a lot of that,” Marquez said. 

She said the women she sees from other states who would have to be on the brink of death to be able to receive an abortion due bans so they come to New Mexico to receive care.

“These are the situations I see every single day. It really breaks my heart,” she said.

She said the effects harm not just the individuals who need the healthcare but also the medical professionals who treat them because it leads to burn out. She said there is a lot of burnout in the profession and it increases the OB-GYN deserts that already exist, especially in rural areas.

Stansbury said that when reproductive rights issues hit the news headlines, the stories are so politicized, the real stories behind them go unheard.

Biden also said that if he is reelected, he wants to guarantee IVF treatments nationwide, codify  the protections that were part of Roe v. Wade into national law and institute the first women’s health research plan with $12 billion to benefit the lives of women in the U.S. 

“Clearly, those bragging about overturning Roe v. Wade have no clue about the power of women in America,” Biden said.

He also said he wants to pass the Equality Act and he had a brief message for transgender individuals.

“I have your back,” he said.

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