WASHINGTON — An angry US President Joe Biden called on voters Friday to rise up over the Supreme Court’s “tragic error” in ending the constitutional right to abortion, warning that an “extreme ideology” is already targeting other rights.
“The court has done what it has never done before — expressly take away a constitutional right that is so fundamental to so many Americans,” Biden said in the White House after the conservative-dominated Supreme Court overturned “Roe v. Wade.”
“It’s a realization of an extreme ideology and a tragic error by the Supreme Court in my view.”
The top Democrat vowed to do everything he could to shield abortion access, but with the Supreme Court stripping away the federal right and handing power to often anti-abortion state legislatures, he acknowledged that his hands are largely tied.
The only way to ensure the right now “is for Congress to restore the protections of ‘Roe v. Wade’ as federal law,” he said. “No executive action from the president can do that.”
About half of the US states are moving immediately to either ban or severely restrict abortion, responding to decades of activism by the so-called “pro-life” movement, which finally got its chance when Republican president Donald Trump named three more conservative justices to the top court, tilting the balance firmly right.
Biden did not hide his anger as he described some of the laws emerging from states, saying they are “jeopardizing the health of millions of women.” In some cases, state legislators are allowing women to be “punished for protecting their health” and forcing women to “bear their rapist’s child,” he said.
With the ruling, the Supreme Court has made the United States an “outlier” in the world, Biden charged.
Signaling the Democrats’ intention to make the abortion debate an important part of their campaign to retain control of Congress in November midterm elections, Biden said the fight is just starting.
According to Biden, the end to the constitutional right to abortion also threatens the future of other social issues where the Supreme Court had previously ruled in favor of individual choice, including contraception and same-sex marriage.
“I have warned how this decision risks the broader right to privacy,” Biden said, describing the landmark 1973 “Roe” decision as underpinning “so many more rights that have come to be taken for granted and are ingrained.”
That is the “extreme and dangerous path the court has now taken us on,” he said.
Urging activists to remain peaceful, Biden said the answer should come at the polls.
“Voters need to make their voices heard. This fall, you must elect more senators and representatives who will codify the woman’s right to choose in federal law once again,” he said.
“This fall, ‘Roe’ is on the ballot. Personal freedoms are on the ballot — the right to privacy, liberty, equality, are all on the ballot.”
In her own response to the ruling, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi quoted Israeli poet Ehud Manor, urging Americans disappointed by the Supreme Court decision not to give up on their country.
“I will not be silent for my country has changed her face. I shall not give up on her, I shall remind her and sing into her ears until she opens her eyes,” read Pelosi, who has repeatedly drawn on the poem about the conduct of IDF soldiers during the 1982 Second Lebanon War.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi reads a poem in reaction to SCOTUS overturning Roe v. Wade. pic.twitter.com/tEFDbgR04M
— The Recount (@therecount) June 24, 2022
In a statement, Attorney General Merrick Garland said the Justice Department “will work tirelessly to protect and advance reproductive freedom.” He said that in addition to protecting providers and those seeking abortions in states where it remains legal, “we stand ready to work with other arms of the federal government that seek to use their lawful authorities to protect and preserve access to reproductive care.”
He also noted that the Food and Drug Administration has approved the use of mifepristone, a drug used to end pregnancies.
“States may not ban mifepristone based on disagreement with the FDA’s expert judgment about its safety and efficacy,” Garland said.
Reactions also poured in from abroad, with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau calling the ruling “horrific.”
My heart goes out to the millions of American women who are now set to lose their legal right to an abortion. I can’t imagine the fear and anger you are feeling right now,” he tweeted.
“Abortion is a fundamental right for all women. It must be protected. I wish to express my solidarity with the women whose liberties are being undermined by the Supreme Court of the United States,” chimed in France President Emmanuel Macron on Twitter.
Israeli Transportation Minister Merav Michaeli said that the ruling was a result “of a dark and women-hating regime appointing judges,” in reference to former president Donald Trump. She warned that a similar loss of rights could happen in Israel, where abortion is legal.
“As the only woman to lead a political party in Israel, I know I will continue to fight my battles because I am not prepared for my country to change its face in the same way the US changed its face today,” she said.