U.S. President Joe Biden addresses the Supreme Court’s decision on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization to overturn Roe v. Wade June 24, 2022 in Cross Hall at the White House in Washington, DC. / Alex Wong/Getty Images
Denver Newsroom, Jun 24, 2022 / 13:55 pm (CNA).
In a Friday press conference, U.S. President Joe Biden called on Congress to codify abortion access into federal law, following the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade that morning. The court’s decision returned the question of abortion policy to the states, which Biden labeled a “tragic error.”
He also said he had that day directed the Department of Health and Human Services to make abortion pills more widely available, and that he would do “everything in my power” to protect women traveling to obtain abortions.
“It’s a sad day for the court and for the country,” Biden, the nation’s second Catholic president, said June 24.
Calling abortion an “intensely personal decision,” Biden went on to lament that the decision had taken away women’s “right to choose” and the “power to control their own destiny.” He claimed that with Roe gone, the “life and health” of women in the United States is now “at risk.”
Biden has repeatedly expressed support for Roe v. Wade — which legalized abortion nationwide in 1973 — despite the teaching of his Catholic faith that abortion is a “grave evil.”
“I believe Roe v. Wade was the correct decision,” Biden stated, claiming that Roe represented a “broad national consensus” relating to the “fundamental right to privacy” that “most Americans of faith…found acceptable.”
This is despite evidence suggesting that more than 60% of all Americans disagreed with the central holding of Roe v. Wade, according to a January Knights of Columbus/Marist Poll survey.
“This decision is the culmination of a deliberate effort over decades to upset the balance of our law,” Biden continued, claiming that “the court has done what it has never done before, expressly take away a constitutional right that is so fundamental to so many Americans and had already been recognized. The court’s decision to do so will have real and immediate consequences.”
“It’s a realization of an extreme ideology and a tragic error by the Supreme Court, in my view.”
The only way to “secure a women’s right to choose,” Biden said, is for Congress to restore Roe as federal law, adding that “executive action can’t do that.” He urged the election of pro-choice legislators in the fall midterm elections.
Biden stated that he intends to provide aid to women living in pro-life states who want to travel to pro-abortion states. “If any state or local official, high or low, tries to interfere with a woman’s exercising her basic right to travel, I will do everything in my power to fight that deeply un-American attack,” Biden said.
The president also said he had directed the Department of Health and Human Services to “take steps” to ensure that mifepristone, the first drug in medical abortion regimen, is “available to the fullest extent possible.” Abortion supporters have pointed to medical abortions — which have been linked to numerous health risks — as a kind of workaround or backup plan for women to access abortion as states restrict abortion. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control’s most recent Abortion Surveillance report, for the year 2019, “early medical abortions” made up 42.3% of abortions that year.
Biden requested that people upset by the decision remain peaceful in their response. This comes after numerous recent incidents of vandalism of pro-life pregnancy centers across the country, which the White House condemned via a spokesperson June 15.
“I call on everyone no matter how deeply they care about this decision to keep all protests peaceful. Peaceful. Peaceful. Peaceful. No intimidation. Violence is never acceptable. Threats and intimidation are not speech. We must stand against violence in any form regardless of your rationale,” Biden said Friday.
Biden concluded by claiming that the decision to overturn Roe had “made the United States an outlier among developed nations in the world,” despite the fact that the U.S. was previously one of only a handful of countries — including China and North Korea — that permitted elective abortions after 20 weeks’ gestation. Fourty-seven out of 50 European countries, independent states, and regions analyzed in 2014 either do not allow elective abortion or limit elective abortion to 15 weeks or earlier.