Biden declares right to abortion ‘fundamental’ after leak of draft Supreme Court opinion
President Biden declared Tuesday that a woman’s right to have an abortion is “fundamental” and called on voters to elect more pro-abortion rights officials at the federal level in November so that Democrats can pass legislation protecting abortion rights.
“I believe that a woman’s right to choose is fundamental, 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,” Biden said in a written statement released by the White House in response to a shocking leak of a Supreme Court draft opinion suggesting the high court is poised to overturn the decision in Roe v. Wade.
“If the Court does overturn Roe, it will fall on our nation’s elected officials at all levels of government to protect a woman’s right to choose,” Biden continued. “And it will fall on voters to elect pro-choice officials this November.”
Biden acknowledged in the statement, issued just before he was scheduled to depart the White House for a trip to Alabama, that it’s unclear whether the leaked draft represents the court’s final decision.
“We do not know whether this draft is genuine, or whether it reflects the final decision of the Court,” he said.
Biden also noted that the White House counsel’s office and the Gender Policy Council have been working on options to respond to potential outcomes in the Supreme Court case, work that began in the wake of bills restricting abortions in states like Texas.
Biden said the bills represent a “continued attack on abortion and reproductive rights,” a notable line given that official Biden White House statements have often veered away from using the word “abortion.”
In an extraordinary development, Politico reported late Monday on a leaked draft majority opinion written by conservative Justice Samuel Alito indicating the high court is poised to overturn the landmark 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade that established a constitutional right to an abortion.
The 67-page draft opinion, said to have been drafted in February, concludes that Roe and the Supreme Court’s 1992 decision in Planned Parenthood v. Casey are not grounded in the Constitution.
“We now overrule those decisions and return that authority to the people and their elected representatives,” the draft opinion states.
The justices could change their votes up until a final opinion is publicly released, which is expected sometime in the next two months.
Nevertheless, the leaked opinion sent shockwaves through Washington, with Democrats condemning the forthcoming decision as an assault on women’s rights. Some also revived a push to eliminate the legislative filibuster to pass abortion protections.
The leak of the draft opinion itself was highly unusual, representing an unprecedented breach of the high court’s inner workings.
In a statement later Tuesday morning, the Supreme Court confirmed the authenticity of the draft opinion as reported by Politico but said it did not constitute the final position of any justice. Chief Justice John Roberts also ordered an investigation into the leak.
“Court employees have an exemplary and important tradition of respecting the confidentiality of the judicial process and upholding the trust of the Court,” Roberts said in a statement. “This was a singular and egregious breach of that trust that is an affront to the Court and the community of public servants who work here.”
Updated at 11:33 a.m.