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Week in politics: The Dobbs decision, one year on

MILES PARKS, HOST:

One year ago today, the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, and the landscape for abortion access across America began to shift state by state. President Biden acknowledged the anniversary with an event yesterday. He reflected on the significance of the Dobbs decision, and he rallied the support of some key abortion rights groups.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: Americans would not stand by and let the court take away the right that's so fundamental. There would be a fight. We'd fight to restore these protections of Roe v. Wade and make it the law of the land once again, and we're going to do that.

PARKS: NPR political correspondent Kelsey Snell has been watching all of this, and she joins us now.

Hi, Kelsey.

KELSEY SNELL, BYLINE: Hi, there.

PARKS: So President Biden makes this speech where he signals that abortion rights are going to be front and center for his administration. And it seems to be front and center for his campaign next year. But am I right in noting that that has not really always been the case?

SNELL: Well, you know, one of the things that we are seeing happen right now is that the Biden campaign is just starting to really kick up. Like, this is just the kind of rolling out of this campaign. And Biden made these comments in a political speech, and it happened down the street from the White House at the Mayflower Hotel. It was this moment of seeing the separation of the president from the campaign. And what we also are hearing in this speech is kind of a thesis for his campaign at large. He talked about the election as, quote, "freedom on the ballot."

Now, you can hear how that could apply to other things that Democrats want to talk about, things well beyond abortion - could apply to messaging around the restrictive policies Republicans are pushing in states like book bans and immigration restrictions or limitations on LGBTQ rights, you know, and health care access restrictions. So Democrats have been previewing that type of message with their talk of extreme MAGA Republicans for months now, and that kind of ties all of it together. The event also rolled out endorsements from major abortion rights groups, which, you know, kind of tied it all together for Biden at this moment when he's having a speech down the street from Republicans who were gathered for the Faith and Freedom Coalition conference, creating just a very clear juxtaposition between the two parties.

PARKS: Also, speaking of Republicans, this presidential field that's been forming over the last few weeks, how is the field responding to this Dobbs anniversary?

SNELL: Well, I think the person I would think of most quickly when I'm thinking about discussion around abortion is former Vice President Mike Pence 'cause he has made abortion kind of an issue for a majority of his political career. And he was clear at that Faith and Freedom Coalition event that abortion will be a huge element of his message in running for president.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MIKE PENCE: The cause of life is the calling of our time, and we must not rest and must not relent until we restore the sanctity of life to the center of American law in every state in this country.

(APPLAUSE)

SNELL: Now, it's worth it to remember that Pence was kind of chosen for the VP candidate with former President Trump because of his history with the evangelical conservative movement. Other candidates also talk about abortion restrictions. They also talk about life in general, not quite the way that Pence does. We do hear from Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who has overseen the passage of a six-week abortion ban in his state. And others like governor - former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley and South Carolina Senator Tim Scott talk about faith and protecting life.

PARKS: So it seems like this is going to be a pretty critical issue looking ahead at next year's presidential election. Do we have any sense - any new sense - on how voters are feeling about the issue?

SNELL: Well, we are seeing that voters are growing more supportive of abortion rights. The latest NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll came out just this past week and found that 57% of respondents oppose the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade. You know, as expected, a large majority of Democrats agree with that statement. But the thing that I think is very interesting and will be potentially very telling about the way voters behave in the upcoming election is that nearly 6 in 10 independents shared that view. And independent women, 63% of them shared that view. And women in small cities, nearly two-thirds of them shared that view. So that puts Republicans in opposition with the majority of voters and a majority of those really critical swing voters.

PARKS: That is NPR's Kelsey Snell.

Thank you so much, Kelsey.

SNELL: Thanks so much for having me. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Miles Parks is a reporter on NPR's Washington Desk. He covers voting and elections, and also reports on breaking news.
Kelsey Snell is a Congressional correspondent for NPR. She has covered Congress since 2010 for outlets including The Washington Post, Politico and National Journal. She has covered elections and Congress with a reporting specialty in budget, tax and economic policy. She has a graduate degree in journalism from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. and an undergraduate degree in political science from DePaul University in Chicago.
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