2 women impacted by abortion restrictions campaign for Biden in key swing states

Monday, April 8, 2024
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NORTH CAROLINA -- Two women who experienced complications during pregnancy are now campaigning for President Joe Biden to talk about the impact of abortion restrictions.

Amanda Zurawski and Kaitlyn Joshua will travel to North Carolina and Wisconsin over the next two weeks to meet with doctors, local officials and voters.

The Biden campaign sees their stories as potent firsthand accounts of the growing medical peril for many women as abortion restrictions pushed by Republicans complicate health care.

"The abortion topic is a very heavy topic, and I understand that," Joshua said.

She is 31 years old from Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

"But, I also understand and believe that the Biden and Harris administration is the only administration that could do anything remotely close to addressing the abortion bans," Joshua said, "and then also doing a deeper dive into research and understanding women's health in general."

Biden and Democrats see reproductive health as a major driver for the 2024 election.

The president and his proxies blame Republican Donald Trump, whose judicial nominations paved the way for the Supreme Court's conservative majority decision in 2022 that overturned abortion rights codified by Roe v. Wade.

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Republicans, including Trump, are struggling to figure out how to talk about the issue, if at all. Trump has both taken credit for the overturning of Roe and suggested abortion should be legal until 15 weeks.

Since the high court's ruling, voters have approved several statewide ballot initiatives to preserve or expand the right to abortion. Support for abortion access drove women to the polls during the 2022 midterm elections, delivering Democrats' unexpected success.

About two-thirds of Americans say abortion should be legal, according to a poll by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

Only about one-quarter say abortion should always be legal and only about 1 in 10 say it should always be illegal.

Joshua and her husband were excited to be having a second baby. But, she started to experience bleeding and serious pain at about 11 weeks. She suspected she was miscarrying.

At an emergency room in Baton Rouge, doctors who examined her wouldn't confirm if she was miscarrying, Joshua said, or discuss her medical options. She was sent home to wait.

President Joe Biden speaks about abortion access during a Democratic National Committee event Oct. 18, 2022, in Washington.
AP Photo/Evan Vucci

The bleeding worsened, and she went to a second hospital where again, doctors sent her home and told her to contact her doctor in a few days. A midwife eventually confirmed that Joshua had miscarried.

"Something that sounds as simple as dealing with a miscarriage can't even be met with a true diagnosis anymore," Joshua said. "It's kind of wild, right? And it's really frightening."

Joshua and Zurawski will be in Raleigh, Durham and Charlotte, North Carolina, on Wednesday, a state Biden hopes to flip. The state has enacted a law banning most abortions after 12 weeks, overriding a veto from the Democratic governor.

The week after that, they will visit Milwaukee, Eau Claire and Madison, Wisconsin, a state Biden won in 2020. Republicans in the state Assembly tried to set up a statewide referendum on the April ballot banning abortion after 14 weeks of pregnancy - more restrictive than current law - but the legislative session ended without a state Senate vote.

Both women said they felt compelled to get into politics after their own experiences.

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"People don't get how bad it is, and they don't get how bleak it is," Zurawski said. "And so the more we continue to share our stories. ... I think it's really important to spread awareness and paint this picture."

Zurawski, 37, or Austin sued Texas last year after she and other women could not get medical care because of the state's abortion laws.

Zurawski went into early labor in her second trimester, after 18 months of fertility treatments. She was then told her baby would not survive.

Doctors said they could not intervene to provide an abortion because Zurawski wasn't in enough medical danger. She had to wait.

Three days later, her condition rapidly worsened, and she developed sepsis, a dangerous medical condition in which the body responds improperly to an infection. She stabilized long enough to deliver a stillborn girl, whom she named Willow. Zurawski then spent days in intensive care.

She recently returned from a family trip to Disney World and said, "I thought I'd be coming home from that trip with a 1-year-old and be putting her down for a nap."

"But instead, I'm doing this interview to help campaign for Biden," Zurawski said. "It's just the complete opposite world than I ever would have seen myself in."

Trump's position on abortion

Former President Donald Trump said he believes abortion limits should be left to the states, in a video released Monday declining to endorse a national ban after months of mixed messages and speculation.

"Many people have asked me what my position is on abortion and abortion rights," Trump said in the video posted on his Truth Social site. "My view is now that we have abortion where everybody wanted it from a legal standpoint, the states will determine by vote or legislation or perhaps both. And whatever they decide must be the law of the land - in this case, the law of the state."

Trump, in the video, did not say when in pregnancy he believes abortion should be banned - declining to endorse a national cutoff that would have been used as a cudgel by Democrats ahead of the November election. But Trump's endorsement of the patchwork approach leaves him open to being attached to the strictest proposed state legislation, which President Joe Biden and his reelection campaign have already been working to do.

In the video, Trump again took credit for the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to end Roe v. Wade, saying that he was "proudly the person responsible for the ending" of the constitutional right to an abortion and thanking the conservative justices who overturned it by name.

While he again articulated his support for three exceptions - in cases of rape, incest and when the life of the mother is at risk - he went on to describe the current legal landscape, in which different states have different restrictions following the court's Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization ruling on June 24, 2022, which upended the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.

"Many states will be different. Many will have a different number of weeks or some will have more conservative than others and that's what they will be," he said. "At the end of the day it's all about will of the people."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.