Українці в Португалії провели акцію навпроти проросійської

US Abortion Foes, Supporters Map Next Moves After Roe Reversal

A Texas group that helps women pay for abortions halted its efforts Saturday while evaluating its legal risk under a strict state ban. Mississippi’s only abortion clinic continued to see patients while awaiting a 10-day notice that will trigger a ban. Elected officials across the country vowed to take action to protect women’s access to reproductive health care, and abortion foes promised to take the fight to new arenas.

A day after the Supreme Court’s ruling overturning Roe v. Wade ended the constitutional right to abortion, emotional protests and prayer vigils turned to resolve as several states enacted bans and both supporters and opponents of abortion rights mapped out their next moves.

In Texas, Cathy Torres, organizing manager for Frontera Fund, a group that helps pay for abortions, said there is a lot of fear and confusion in the Rio Grande Valley near the U.S.-Mexico border, where many people are in the country illegally.

That includes how the state’s abortion law will be enforced. Under the law, people who help patients get abortions can be fined and doctors who perform them could face life in prison.

“We are a fund led by people of color, who will be criminalized first,” Torres said, adding that abortion funds like hers that have paused operations hope to find a way to safely restart. “We just really need to keep that in mind and understand the risk.”

Tyler Harden, Mississippi director for Planned Parenthood Southeast, said she spent Friday and Saturday making sure people with impending appointments at the state’s only abortion clinic — which featured in the Supreme Court case but is not affiliated with Planned Parenthood — know they don’t have to cancel them right away. Abortions can take place until 10 days after the state attorney general publishes a required administrative notice.

Mississippi will ban the procedure except for pregnancies that endanger the woman’s life or those caused by rape reported to law enforcement. The Republican speaker of the Mississippi House, Philip Gunn, said during a news conference Friday that he would oppose adding an exception for incest.

“I believe that life begins at conception,” Gunn said.

Harden said she has been providing information about funds that help people travel out of state to have abortions. Many in Mississippi were doing so even before the ruling, but that will become more difficult now that abortions have ended in neighboring states. Florida is the nearest “safe haven” state, but Harden said, “we know that that may not be the case for too much longer.”

At the National Right to Life convention in Atlanta, a leader within the anti-abortion group warned attendees Saturday that the Supreme Court’s decision ushers in “a time of great possibility and a time of great danger.”

Randall O’Bannon, the organization’s director of education and research, encouraged activists to celebrate their victories but stay focused and continue working on the issue. Specifically, he called out medication taken to induce abortion.

“With Roe headed for the dustbin of history, and states gaining the power to limit abortions, this is where the battle is going to be played out over the next several years,” O’Bannon said. “The new modern menace is a chemical or medical abortion with pills ordered online and mailed directly to a woman’s home.”

Protests broke out for a second day in cities across the country, from Los Angeles to Oklahoma City to Jackson, Mississippi.

In the LA demonstration, one of several in California, hundreds of people marched through downtown carrying signs with slogans like “my body, my choice” and “abort the court.”

Turnout was smaller in Oklahoma City, where about 15 protesters rallied outside the Capitol. Oklahoma is one of 11 states where there are no providers offering abortions, and it passed the nation’s strictest abortion law in May.

“I have gone through a wave of emotions in the last 24 hours. … It’s upsetting, it’s angry, it’s hard to put together everything I’m feeling right now,” said Marie Adams, 45, who has had two abortions for ectopic pregnancies, where a fertilized egg is unable to survive. She called the issue “very personal to me.”

“Half the population of the United States just lost a fundamental right,” Adams said. “We need to speak up and speak loud.”

Callie Pruett, who volunteered to escort patients into West Virginia’s only abortion clinic before it stopped offering the procedure after Friday’s ruling, said she plans to work in voter registration in the hope of electing officials who support abortion rights. The executive director of Appalachians for Appalachia added that her organization also will apply for grants to help patients get access to abortion care, including out of state.

“We have to create networks of people who are willing to drive people to Maryland or to D.C.,” Pruett said. “That kind of local action requires organization at a level that we have not seen in nearly 50 years.”

Fellow West Virginian Sarah MacKenzie, 25, said she’s motivated to fight for abortion access by the memory of her mother, Denise Clegg, a passionate reproductive health advocate who worked for years at the state’s clinic as a nurse practitioner and died unexpectedly in May. MacKenzie plans to attend protests in the capital, Charleston, and donate to a local abortion fund.

“She would be absolutely devastated. She was so afraid of this happening — she wanted to stop it,” Mackenzie said, adding, “I’ll do everything in my power to make sure that this gets reversed.”

The Supreme Court’s ruling is likely to lead to abortion bans in roughly half the states.

Since the decision, clinics have stopped performing abortions in Arizona, Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Missouri, South Dakota, West Virginia and Wisconsin. Women considering abortions already had been dealing with the near-complete ban in Oklahoma and a prohibition after roughly six weeks in Texas.

In Ohio, a ban on most abortions from the first detectable fetal heartbeat became law when a federal judge dissolved an injunction that had kept the measure on hold for nearly three years.

Another law with narrow exceptions was triggered in Utah by Friday’s ruling. Planned Parenthood Association of Utah filed a lawsuit against it in state court and said it would request a temporary restraining order, arguing it violates the state constitution.

Gov. Tim Walz of Minnesota, where abortion remains legal, signed an executive order shielding people seeking or providing abortions in his state from facing legal consequences in other states. Walz also has vowed to reject requests to extradite anyone accused of committing acts related to reproductive health care that are not criminal offenses in Minnesota.

“My office has been and will continue to be a firewall against legislation that would reverse reproductive freedom,” he said.

In Fargo, North Dakota, the state’s sole abortion provider faces a 30-day window before it would have to shut down and plans to move across the river to Minnesota. Red River Women’s Clinic owner Tammi Kromenaker said Saturday that she has secured a location in Moorhead and an online fundraiser to support the move has brought in more than half a million dollars in less than three days.

Republicans sought to downplay their excitement about winning their decades-long fight to overturn Roe, aware that the ruling could energize the Democratic base, particularly suburban women. Carol Tobias, president of National Right to Life, said she expects abortion opponents to turn out in huge numbers this fall.

But Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers, a Democrat, said Saturday he believes the issue will energize independents and he hopes to translate anger over Roe’s demise into votes.

“Any time you take half the people in Wisconsin and make them second-class citizens,” Evers said, “I have to believe there’s going to be a reaction to that.” 

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Life in Donbas: ‘We Would Like to Live a Little Bit Longer’

The prolonged roar of Grad rockets can be heard as locals in the east Ukrainian town of Siversk crowd around a van selling essentials such as bread, sausages and gas for camp stoves.

“Everyone is suffering. All of us here are trying to survive,” said Nina, a 64-year-old retiree, pushing a bicycle.

“There’s no water, no gas, no electricity. … We have been living for three months now under shelling. It’s like we’re in the Stone Ages,” she said.

The small town of mainly village-style single-story houses on dusty roads has become a new frontier in the war between Russia and Ukraine.

Ukrainian troops have given up defending the ravaged city of Sievierodonetsk and now face a battle with Russians seeking to encircle neighboring Lysychansk.

Siversk is the last major town en route to Lysychansk, albeit along roads that are severely damaged and under shelling and has Russian forces encroaching from the north and south.

Local people, many of them retirees, complain they feel abandoned by Kyiv.

“The town has really died. And we would like to live a little bit longer,” said Marina, 63, a retired factory worker.

“They’re just basically killing us. It’s dangerous everywhere,” Nina said. “No one needs us, there’s no help from the government. Ukraine has forgotten about us.”

‘Batteries are trending’

Military vehicles including U.S. Humvees and latest-generation U.S. and Soviet-style howitzers, tanks, aid trucks and ambulances constantly pass back and forth through Siversk.

“All day they’ve been coming,” said a policeman at a nearby checkpoint, adding that three vehicles carrying evacuees have gone through “with mainly old people, women and children — there is movement today.”

Driving onto higher ground, dirty smoke rises from a fresh Ukrainian missile launch.

The street van in Siversk is a commercial operation, bringing goods including Polish food from the city of Dnipro, some 300 kilometers away, locals say.

“It’s expensive, of course,” Nina said.

There are also deliveries of humanitarian aid. AFP journalists saw three Red Cross trucks drive up to municipal offices and unload boxes of food including sunflower oil, tea and buckwheat, as well as hygiene items such as razors.

Municipal official Svitlana Severin asked the Red Cross staff to bring more candles, matches and flashlights.

“Batteries are trending,” she said. Flashlights “need power and we don’t know when we’ll get electricity.”

The boxes are put in a storage room. Severin says that in order to minimize crowds, they stagger their handouts, with specific days each month for each social group.

An older woman comes up to the vans indignantly asking why she cannot access the aid and asking for heart medicine.

‘Candles needed’

There are also local initiatives.

Social worker Svetlana Meloshchenko says she and her helpers go round distributing water in milk containers and have given out candles and washing liquids outside the local shop.

“Candles are needed — people spend nights in their cellar,” she said.

“There are a lot of small children, old people, disabled people,” she added, as well as “a lot of people with diabetes.”

“Medicines are supplied to hospitals, but not enough for all,” she said.

Russian troops are firing artillery on the area around Siversk, according to Ukraine’s General Staff.

Nearby, a group of Ukrainian soldiers sprawl in a disused petrol station, eating bread and sausage, their semiautomatic rifles beside them. They say they are going back and forth to the front, without giving details.

“Our cause is the right one,” insisted one young soldier, while another older, bearded man said: “We don’t look at the news.”

“When there’s really good news, we’ll definitely hear about it,” he said, smiling. 

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Biden Arrives in Europe for Summits Focused on Ukraine, Economy

President Joe Biden touched down in Germany on Saturday, where he will attend the G-7 summit with the leaders of key U.S. allies to discuss their united front against Russia and troubling weakness in the world economy. 

Biden flew from Washington to Munich, then boarded the Marine One helicopter for the short flight to the summit location, Schloss Elmau. His first talks during his three-day stay will be with Chancellor Olaf Scholz of Germany on Sunday. 

The leaders of the seven wealthy democracies, the U.S., Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan, will meet in a luxurious castle in Germany’s Alps. 

Then they all head to Madrid for a NATO summit. 

Both sessions will take place in the shadow of Russia’s Ukraine invasion, but also a global surge in inflation, fears of recession, and the ever-growing challenge of containing China while avoiding open conflict. 

Biden has gained widespread praise for restoring U.S. leadership of its European and Asian alliances. The response to Russia in particular has seen strong transatlantic unity, both for arming the Ukrainians and imposing powerful economic sanctions against Moscow. 

But Biden, like several European leaders, is facing pressure at home over fallout from the sanctions, which have helped drive up fuel prices, imposing a heavy drag on economies exiting the COVID-19 shutdown. 

Biden is also burdened at home by a tense political situation ahead of November midterm elections that could see Republicans take back control of Congress for the next two years. 

A ruling by the Supreme Court on Friday to end decades of federal protections for access to abortion has opened a new battlefield, with Biden calling on voters to make it a key issue in November. 

He returned to the issue on Saturday before departing for Europe, saying the Supreme Court had made a “shocking decision.” 

“I know how painful and devastating the decision is for so many Americans,” he said.

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Taliban Urges US to Lift Curbs and Unfreeze Funds to Help Quake-hit Afghanistan

The Taliban renewed their call Saturday for the United States to unfreeze Afghanistan’s foreign funds and lift financial sanctions to help the war-torn country deal with its deadliest earthquake in more than two decades.  

 

The United Nations said humanitarian organizations, in coordination with Taliban authorities, are continuing to provide aid to families in Paktika and Khost, the two southeastern Afghan provinces hardest hit by Wednesday’s 5.9 magnitude earthquake.  

 

“There are, however, unconfirmed reports that between 700 and 800 families are living in the open across three of the six worst-affected districts,” said a U.N. statement Saturday.  

 

“Families living in non-damaged and partially damaged buildings have also reportedly resorted to living out in the open out of fear that there may be further tremors,” the statement added.  

The quake killed 1,150 people, injured about 1,600 and destroyed nearly 3,000 homes, with hundreds more partially damaged, according to Taliban officials. The destruction hit some of the poorest and most remote mountainous Afghan areas near the Pakistan border which lacks the infrastructure to withstand calamities of this scale. At least 121 children were among those killed and the toll is likely to increase, according to the U.N. children’s fund UNICEF.  

Afghan authorities have called off the search for survivors, and they were struggling to deliver critically needed aid due to capacity challenges.

 

“In these testing times, we call on the United States to release Afghanistan’s frozen assets and lift sanctions on Afghan banks so that aid agencies could easily deliver assistance to Afghanistan,” Taliban Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi said Saturday, while speaking to reporters in the capital, Kabul.

 

U.S. President Joe Biden issued an executive order in February that was aimed at freeing up half the $7 billion in frozen Afghan central bank assets on U.S. soil. The money would be used to benefit the Afghan people while the rest would be held to possibly satisfy terrorism-related lawsuits against the Taliban.

 

“We are urgently working to address complicated questions about the use of these funds to ensure they benefit the people of Afghanistan and not the Taliban,” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters Saturday.

 

But she reiterated the Biden administration was not waiting and was working through international partners to urgently get aid to the Afghan people.

 

The UNICEF representative in the country, Mohamed Ayoya, visited one of the worst-hit districts in Paktika and described the situation on Twitter.

 

“I saw despair, desolation, suffering, vulnerability but also resilience & acts of solidarity from national businessmen, international organizations & authorities,” Ayoya wrote.  

 

More foreign aid arrives  

 

Meanwhile, Afghan officials said cargo planes from neighboring Pakistan, Iran, Uzbekistan, and the gulf state of Qatar, carrying relief supplies for survivors, landed at the Khost airport.

 

 

Mansoor Ahmad Khan, the Pakistani ambassador in Kabul, said in a Twitter post that his country had also stationed “19 paramedics/doctors…at Khost Airport from 23 June with 3 ambulances & mobile hospital to treat injured & refer serious to hospitals in Pakistan.”

 

China said it would provide humanitarian assistance worth $7.5 million to Afghanistan, including tents, towels, beds and other supplies urgently needed in quake-devastated areas.  

 

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said Saturday the first batch of supplies was scheduled to depart for the crisis-hit neighbor by charter flights Monday.

 

“In the next few days, China will coordinate closely with the Afghan interim government to ensure the rapid delivery of the relief supplies into the hands of the people in need,” Wenbin said.

 

Britain has also pledged to provide $3 million for immediate life-saving support to Afghans affected by the devastating earthquake.

 

The international community has not yet recognized the Taliban’s interim government since the Islamist insurgent group took over Afghanistan last August, citing concerns over human rights and terrorism.  

 

The Taliban takeover came as U.S. and NATO partners withdrew their final troops, ending almost two decades of foreign military intervention in the South Asian nation.

 

Washington and other Western countries have since halted financial assistance to largely aid-dependent Afghanistan, seized its foreign assets worth more than $9 billion, mostly held by the U.S, and isolated the Afghan banking system.

 

The actions and long-running terrorism-related sanctions on senior Taliban leaders have thrown cash-strapped Afghanistan into a severe economic crisis, worsening an already bad humanitarian crisis blamed on years of war and persistent drought.

 

The United Nations estimates that 97% of Afghanistan’s 40 million people will be living below the poverty line this year.  

 

U.S. Acting Political Counselor Trina Saha told a U.N. Security Council meeting Thursday that the Afghan earthquake was a devastating blow to a population that is already suffering gravely.

 

“We call for urgent donor assistance to relief efforts,” she said. Saha added that “the earthquake highlights the vulnerability of the Afghan people and underscores the dire need for continued humanitarian assistance.”

 

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Protesters at US Supreme Court Decry Abortion Ruling Overturning Roe v. Wade

Hundreds of protesters descended on the U.S. Supreme Court Saturday to denounce the justice’s decision to overturn the half-century-old Roe v. Wade precedent that recognized women’s constitutional right to abortion.

The sweeping ruling by the court, with a 6-3 conservative majority, was set to vastly change American life, with nearly half the states considered certain or likely to ban abortion.

Conservative Justice Clarence Thomas suggested the court’s reasoning could also lead it to reconsider past rulings protecting the right to contraception, legalizing gay marriage nationwide, and invalidating state laws banning gay sex.

The crowd featured both abortion opponents wearing T-shirts reading “I am the Pro-Life Generation” and abortion rights supporters chanting “my body, my choice.”

“The Supreme Court has made some terrible decisions,” Democratic President Joe Biden said Saturday. He added that the White House would look to police how states enforce bans, with administration officials having already signaled they plan to fight attempts by states to ban a pill used for medication abortion.

“The decision is implemented by states,” Biden said. “My administration is going to focus on how they administer and whether or not they violate other laws.”

Christian conservatives had long fought to overturn Roe, with Friday’s ruling a cherished win that was the result of a long campaign to appoint justices opposed to abortion to the top court. The ruling had the support of all three justices appointed by former President Donald Trump.

It is at odds with broad public opinion. A Reuters/Ipsos poll last month found that about 71% of Americans – including majorities of Democrats and Republicans – said decisions about terminating a pregnancy should be left to a woman and her doctor, rather than regulated by the government. That support is not absolute: 26% of respondents polled said abortion should be legal in all cases, while 10% said it should be illegal in all cases, with the majority supporting some limits.

The ruling will likely influence voter behavior in the November 8 midterm elections, when Biden’s Democrats face a high risk of losing their razor-thin majorities in the House of Representatives and possibly the Senate. Some party leaders hope the decision will win over suburban swing voters, though activists expressed disappointment and demoralization at suffering such a defeat while their party held total power in Washington.

“They can ask for vote for more power, but don’t they already have the Congress and the White House?” said Patricia Smith, a 24-year-old supporter of abortion rights, who was headed to the Supreme Court to protest. “They have not been able to pass much in terms of legislation despite the power, so what is the point?”

The decision came just a day after the court issued another landmark ruling finding that Americans have a constitutional right to carry a concealed gun for protection – leading them to invalidate a New York state law that set strict limits on concealed carry permits.

The two rulings showed an aggressively conservative court ready to flex its muscle and remake American life at a time when Congress is often deadlocked and struggles to pass major policy changes.

It also signaled that Chief Justice John Roberts, a conservative who preferred to act incrementally, no longer holds the power to slow the court’s action. Roberts had voted to support the Mississippi abortion ban that was the subject of Friday’s decision, but it did not vote to overturn Roe itself.

During a call with journalists Saturday, a group of Democratic state attorneys general said they would not use their offices to enforce abortion bans.

“We are not going to use the resources of the Wisconsin Department of Justice to investigate or prosecute anybody for alleged violations of the 19th century abortion ban,” said Josh Kaul, that state’s attorney general. “I’ve also encouraged district attorneys, sheriff prosecutors and police chiefs in our state not to use their resources to investigate or prosecute abortions.”

The White House on Saturday said it would challenge any efforts by states to restrict women’s ability to travel out of their home state to seek an abortion. 

Tears, Anger at the “Pink House”

The case that led to Friday’s decision revolved around a Mississippi law that bans most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, before the fetus is viable outside the womb.

The Jackson Women’s Health Organization, nicknamed the “Pink House” because of its bubble gum-colored paint, was named in the case. The clinic was still operating on Saturday morning, with escorts showing up to the state’s sole abortion clinic about 5 a.m. to prepare for the arrival of patients.

Anti-abortion protesters began setting up ladders to peer over the property’s fence and large posters with messages, including “abortion is murder” not long after.

Coleman Boyd, 50, a longtime protester outside the clinic who frequently comes with his wife and children to shout gospel through a bullhorn, incorrectly told women waiting for appointments that they were violating the law.

In truth, Mississippi’s law will not shut down the clinic for another nine days. Boyd called the Roe ruling “history” but “definitely not a victory,” noting that he wanted to see an end to abortion in all states.

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Десятки тисяч людей вийшли на «КиївПрайд» у Варшаві

«Наша хода – за політичну підтримку України, за основні права людини для українців, – заявив директор «КиївПрайд» Ленні Емсон. – Це не свято. Будемо чекати перемоги, щоб святкувати»

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Protesters Gather in US Cities in Support of Abortion Rights

Protesters are gathering in cities across the United States to demonstrate against the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overrule a constitutional right to abortion that had been in place for nearly 50 years.

The ruling by the court leaves it to states to decide whether to allow abortions, overturning the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that had guaranteed women a right to an abortion in the initial stages of pregnancy.

Crowds gathered in New York, Atlanta, Detroit and Los Angeles, among other cities.

One person was hit by a truck in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Friday during a protest. The victim’s injuries were minor, police said.

Hundreds of protesters in New York City chanted “Overturn Roe, hell, no” and “Rise up for abortion rights.”

In Washington, both supporters and opponents of abortion rights began gathering outside the Supreme Court building after the court made its announcement Friday.

The crowd is expected to increase in size throughout the weekend.

A group of Democratic lawmakers addressed abortion-rights demonstrators outside the U.S. Capitol, with progressive U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez chanting “into the streets.”

Abortion-rights opponents cheered Friday’s ruling, dancing, playing music and chanting “Goodbye, Roe.”

Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser said the city’s chief of police is working with federal authorities to “make sure that people have the ability to exercise their First Amendment rights [to demonstrate] safely.”

Meanwhile, Washington’s local police department announced Friday that its force has been fully activated.

U.S. President Joe Biden urged Americans on Friday to remain peaceful when protesting the Supreme Court decision.

While he said he knows many Americans are “frustrated and disillusioned,” he said violence must be avoided.

“Violence is never acceptable. Threats and intimidation are not speech. We must stand against violence in any form, regardless of your rationale,” he said.

Department of Homeland Security officials warned in a new, updated analysis obtained by VOA that domestic violent extremists (DVEs) will likely seek to exploit the Supreme Court ruling “to intensify violence against a wide range of targets.”

“We expect violence could occur for weeks following the release, particularly as DVEs may be mobilized to respond to changes in state laws and ballot measures on abortion stemming from the decision,” according to the analysis. “We base this assessment on an observed increase in violent incidents across the United States following the unauthorized disclosure in May of a draft majority opinion on the case.”

Friday’s ruling came less than two months after an early draft of the court’s opinion was leaked to a news site, setting off nationwide protests by abortion-rights activists.

The governors of the West Coast states of California, Oregon and Washington issued a joint statement Friday saying their states will remain locations where reproductive health care will be accessible and protected.

VOA’s National Security Correspondent Jeff Seldin contributed to this report. Some information came from The Associated Press and Reuters.

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President Biden Signs Bipartisan Gun Safety Bill Into Law; Takes Swipe at Supreme Court

U.S. President Joe Biden on Saturday signed a bipartisan gun safety bill into law — the first major federal gun reform in three decades, days after the Supreme Court expanded gun rights.

“This is monumental day,” Biden said at the White House, with his wife Jill by his side. “God willing, it’s going to save a lot of lives.”

The Supreme Court on Thursday declared for the first time that the U.S. Constitution protected an individual’s right to carry a handgun in public for self-defense. Gun control has long been a divisive issue in the nation with several attempts to put new controls on gun sales failing time after time.

The new legislation includes provisions to help states keep guns out of the hands of those deemed to be a danger to themselves or others and blocks gun sales to those convicted of abusing unmarried intimate partners. It does not ban sales of assault-style rifles or high-capacity magazines.

The law does take some steps on background checks by allowing access, for the first time, to information on significant crimes committed by juveniles. It also cracks down on gun sales to purchasers convicted of domestic violence.  

It provides new federal funding to states that administer “red flag” laws intended to remove guns from people deemed dangerous to themselves and others.

Biden said he would host an event in July for victims of gun violence to mark the bill’s signing.

“Their message to us was do something … today we did,” said Biden.

The President also repeated his criticism of the Supreme Court’s ruling on Friday, which eliminated the constitutional right to abortion nationwide, and said his administration was going to focus on how states implemented the decision and make sure they did not violate other laws.

“Is the Supreme Court broken? The Supreme Court has made some terrible decisions,” Biden said. “Jill and I know how painful and devastating the decision is for so many Americans and I mean so many Americans. We’re going to take action to protect women’s rights and reproductive health.”

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