Under the Supreme Court, Biden urged voters to protect abortion rights

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Joe Biden on Tuesday appealed to voters to protect abortion rights by supporting their candidates in the November elections, after a leaked Supreme Court draft showed the Supreme Court could soon overturn its 1973 ruling legalizing abortion.

Biden said his administration would respond once the Supreme Court made a formal ruling, but stopped short of calling for more drastic changes — including pressing the Senate to change its rules to allow a simple majority to pass a law guaranteeing access to abortions.

The Senate is split 50-50 between Biden’s Republicans and Democrats, with Vice President Kamala Harris able to break any tie.

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A draft Supreme Court ruling, leaked late Monday, showed that a majority of justices were willing to overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision protecting abortion rights. On Tuesday, the court confirmed the authenticity of the leaked document. Read more

The ruling increases pressure on Biden, who is already grappling with the US response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and efforts to curb high inflation at home.

Biden has previously avoided calls to expand the Supreme Court to add more left-leaning justices.

Former President Donald Trump, who promised to appoint judges to overturn abortion rights, was able to appoint three judges during his four-year term, giving the court a 6-3 majority.

Biden on Tuesday lobbied voters to send more candidates to Congress who support women’s rights to choose abortion.

“If the court overturns Roe’s case, it will fall to our country’s elected officials at all levels of government to protect women’s right to choose. It will fall to voters to elect pro-choice officials in November,” Biden said in a careful statement. Written statement drafted with senior assistants.

“At the federal level, we’ll need more pro-choice senators and a pro-choice majority in the House to pass legislation codifying Rowe, which I will work to pass and sign into law.”

Control of the House of Representatives, where Democrats have a slim majority, and the Senate is at stake in the November elections, and Republicans were expected to win a majority in one or both houses.

Harris, the first female vice president, said Roe’s opponents seek to wrest women’s rights to make decisions about their own bodies.

“The rights of all Americans are at stake,” she said. “If the right to privacy is weakened, everyone may face a future in which government can interfere with the personal decisions you make about your life. This is the time to fight for women and for our country with all we have.”

Biden said the ruling’s echoes could reverberate beyond a woman’s right to terminate her pregnancy, pointing to same-sex marriage and other liberties.

“This means that every other decision regarding the concept of privacy is called into question,” Biden told reporters at Joint Base Andrews outside Washington, D.C., before a trip to Alabama. “It is a fundamental shift in American jurisprudence if it holds up.”

Roe’s decision recognized that the right to personal privacy under the United States Constitution protects a woman’s ability to terminate a pregnancy.

Abortion has been a flashpoint between Democrats and Republicans in the United States for decades. Democrats tend to support abortion rights, and Republicans tend to oppose them.

Biden said that with the enactment of more restrictive, Republican-backed abortion laws in various states and the Supreme Court ruling approaching, he directed White House officials to prepare options for the administration’s response.

The Supreme Court’s ruling in the Mississippi abortion case, due by the end of June, may energize voters on both sides of the issue to participate in the midterm elections. Read more

“Roe was egregiously wrong from the start,” conservative judge Samuel Alito wrote in the draft opinion dated February 10.

Based on Alito’s opinion, the court will conclude that the Roe v. Wade decision that allowed abortions to be performed before the fetus was viable outside the womb – between 24 and 28 weeks of gestation – was wrongly defined because the US Constitution does not specifically refer to rights Abortion.

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Additional reporting by Katherine Jackson, Susan Heffy and Timothy Ahmann. Editing by Howard Goller, Will Dunham and Rosalba O’Brien

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