WASHINGTON DC — In sharp and somber remarks from the White House, President Biden criticized the Supreme Court’s decision to deprive millions of women across the country of the federal right to terminate a pregnancy.
“So many of us are frustrated and disillusioned,” Biden said.
The right to abortion had been protected by the 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade. But with that precedent now overturned, Republican states can outlaw abortion altogether.
Roe’s demise came courtesy of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health, in which six justices agreed that abortion was not an inherent right and could thus be curbed altogether. Biden called the ruling “a realization of an extreme ideology and a tragic error” by the court, which at present only includes three liberals.
“It is a sad day for the court and a sad day for the country,” Biden said, having noted his own long-standing support for abortion. He and other Democrats believe that Friday’s ruling could motivate voters in November’s congressional midterms, especially since the vast majority of Americans do not favor criminalizing abortion altogether.
“With your vote, you can act. You can have the final word. This is not over,” Biden said, echoing what House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said earlier in the day at her weekly press conference. Their reminder of the upcoming election suggests that Supreme Court decisions on abortion and, on the day before, guns, could be used to motivate an otherwise despondent Democratic base.
“This fall, Roe is on the ballot,” the president said. As he spoke from the Cross Hall of the White House, high-profile women in his administration — domestic policy adviser Susan Rice, staff secretary Neera Tanden and press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre – watched from a staircase.
Although the Dobbs decision had been widely expected since the leak of a draft opinion to Politico in May, it was not until the ruling was finally issued on Friday that the reality of a post-Roe nation became impossible to ignore. In 13 states, existing “trigger laws” call for abortion to become illegal as soon as Roe is revoked.