President Biden Condemns Supreme Court Decision: ‘This Is Not Over … Roe Is on the Ballot’

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U.S. President Joe Biden addresses the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade on June 24, 2022 in Cross Hall at the White House in Washington, DC. The Court’s decision in Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health overturns the landmark 50-year-old Roe v Wade case and erases a federal right to an abortion. (Alex Wong / Getty Images)

Shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court released its opinion overturning constitutional abortion rights in Roe v. Wade, U.S. President Joseph Biden delivered scathing remarks condemning the decision and announced actions he will take to ensure abortion healthcare access for all Americans. In its sweeping decision, the Supreme Court eliminated 50 years of Supreme Court precedents.

“It’s a sad day for the Court and for the country,” said Biden. “The health and life of women of this nation are now at risk.”

Noting that the decision marks the first time the Supreme Court has ever taken away a constitutional right, Biden described the decision as the “realization of an extreme ideology and a tragic error by the Supreme Court.”

Biden referenced his predecessor when he stated, “The three justices named by Donald Trump are the core of today’s decision to abandon the scales of justice and eliminate a fundamental right for women in this country.”

Describing the decision as “cruel” with consequences that will fall hardest on poor women, Biden noted the real and immediate consequences of the decision. “State laws banning abortion are automatically taking effect today, jeopardizing the health of millions of women, some without exceptions. So extreme that the women can be punished for protecting their health. So extreme that women and girls are forced to bear their rapists’ child as a consequence. It just stuns me.”

Referencing the Court’s 29-page appendix of state laws criminalizing abortion back to the 1800s, Biden noted, “The Court is literally taking America back 150 years. This is a sad day for the country in my view. But it doesn’t mean the fight is over.”

The president called for Congress to restore the protections of Roe v. Wade in federal law. He also called on voters to “make their voices heard” to elect senators and representatives who will work to pass this kind of legislation.

“This fall Roe is on the ballot. Personal freedoms are on the ballot. The right to privacy and liberty equality are on the ballot,” said Biden.

The president promised to do all in his power to protect abortion rights, including protect the right of women to travel to states where abortion is still legal. “The Supreme Court’s decision does not prevent a woman from traveling from her home state to a state that allows abortion and it does not prevent a doctor in that state from treating her. Women must remain free to travel safely to another state to seek care they need. My administration will defend that bedrock right.”

Women must remain free to travel safely to another state to seek care they need. My administration will defend that bedrock right.

President Joe Biden

Biden also pledged that his administration will protect access to abortion medications. Biden warned that “extremist governors and state legislators are looking to block the mail, or search medicine cabinets, or control a woman’s actions by tracking data on the app she uses. This is wrong and extreme and out of touch with the majority of Americans.”

Biden pledged to direct the Department of Health and Human Services to take steps to ensure these critical medications are available to the fullest extent possible.

Shortly after Biden’s statement, Attorney General Merrick Garland issued a statement saying that state restrictions on abortion pills are preempted by federal law. “The FDA has approved the use of the medication Mifepristone. States may not ban mifepristone based on disagreement with the FDA’s expert judgment about its safety and efficacy,” said Garland.

Biden also warned how the Dobbs decision endangers the right to privacy for everyone. “These are rights we’ve come to take for granted and that are ingrained in the fabric of this country. The right to make the best decisions for your health. The right to use birth control by a married couple in the privacy of their bedroom, for God’s sake. The right to marry the person you love.”

Biden noted that Justice Clarence Thomas wrote a dissent that explicitly called for the Court’s reconsideration of decisions they made in Griswold (the right to contraception in 1965), Lawrence (right to sexual privacy in 2003) and Obergefell (right to marriage equality in 2015) (see p. 199 of the opinion). The President condemned the “extreme and dangerous path the Court is now taking us on.”

Imploring Americans “to keep all protests peaceful,” Biden offered his sympathy and support: “So many of us are frustrated and disillusioned the Court has taken something away that’s so fundamental. I know so many women are now going to face incredibly difficult situations. I hear you, I support you. I stand with you.”

Biden closed by calling on Americans to vote in the fall elections. “The core principles of equality, liberty, dignity and stability of the rule of law, demand that Roe should not have been overturned. With this decision, the conservative majority of the Supreme Court shows how extreme it is, how far removed they are from the majority of this country. The United States is now an outlier among developed nations in the world. But this decision must not be the final word. My administration will use all of its appropriate lawful powers, but Congress must act. With your vote, you can act. You can have the final word. This is not over.”

Sign and share Ms.’s relaunched “We Have Had Abortions” petition—whether you yourself have had an abortion, or simply stand in solidarity with those who have—to let the Supreme Court, Congress and the White House know: We will not give up the right to safe, legal, accessible abortion.

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About

Carrie N. Baker, J.D., Ph.D., is the Sylvia Dlugasch Bauman professor in the Program for the Study of Women and Gender at Smith College. She is a contributing editor at Ms. magazine. You can contact Dr. Baker at cbaker@msmagazine.com or follow her on Twitter @CarrieNBaker.