President Joe Biden on Tuesday called a woman’s right to abortion “fundamental” after a draft of a U.S. Supreme Court opinion leaked to Politico indicates a majority of justices will rule to overturn Roe v. Wade.
“I believe that a woman’s right to choose is fundamental,” Biden said in a statement. “Roe has been the law of the land for almost fifty years, and basic fairness and the stability of our law demand that it not be overturned.”
The 1973 Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade established abortion as a constitutional right.
But Politico reported that at least five Supreme Court justices will rule to overturn that decision based on the leaked draft document.
Justices Samuel Alito, Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett signed on to the opinion, according to Politico. All were nominated by Republican presidents.
“We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled,” the justices wrote in a draft deciding Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health, a lawsuit initiated in Mississippi, according to Politico. “The constitution makes no reference to abortion, and no such right is implicitly protected by any constitutional provision, including the one on which the defenders of Roe and Casey now chiefly rely – the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.”
The decision was “egregiously wrong from the start” and must be overturned in its entirety, the justices wrote in the leaked draft.
If the draft becomes the formal opinion of the court, abortion would be decided by states and not embedded as constitutional federal law, as was the case before the Roe v. Wade decision.
Many conservative states in recent years have placed tighter restrictions on abortion through so-called heartbeat bills, banning abortion after a heartbeat is detected in the womb, often around six weeks of pregnancy.
After the report, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, a progressive from Vermont, called for Congress to pass a law preserving women’s rights to an abortion, including ending the Senate filibuster if necessary.
“Congress must pass legislation that codifies Roe v. Wade as the law of the land in this country NOW,” Sanders wrote on Twitter. “And if there aren’t 60 votes in the Senate to do it, and there are not, we must end the filibuster to pass it with 50 votes.”
Biden also has said he would like Congress to codify Roe v. Wade.
While “we do not know whether this draft is genuine, or whether it reflects the final decision of the Court,” Biden said his administration fully supports a woman’s right to make the decision whether to have an abortion.
“My administration argued strongly before the Court in defense of Roe v. Wade. We said that Roe is based on ‘a long line of precedent recognizing ‘the Fourteenth Amendment’s concept of personal liberty … against government interference with intensely personal decisions,’” Biden said.
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