Biden says he is concerned about Supreme Court draft opinion appearing to overturn Roe vs. Wade

President Biden expressed deep concern Tuesday about the draft Supreme Court opinion that leaked Monday night and appeared to reveal that a majority of five conservative justices intend to strike down Roe vs. Wade, ending nearly 50 years of federally protected 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 statement, although he acknowledged the authenticity of the leaked draft opinion remained unclear.

Given that the court is controlled by its six conservatives, the prospect of rescinding abortion rights and returning the decision to the states would not come as a surprise. But such a ruling, which is expected to be issued in the next two months, would deliver a cataclysmic shock to the American body politic and potentially spark a political backlash, furthering civil unrest and a deeper reordering of the lives of millions.

In the short term, Biden and Democrats intend to seize on the apparent overturning of Roe to galvanize voters ahead of the November midterm elections. They are desperate to motivate a base that’s been disappointed by the president’s inability to get much of his agenda through a narrowly divided Congress, and to appeal to swing voters given that a solid majority of Americans support maintaining abortion rights.

“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. And it will fall on voters to elect pro-choice officials this November,” Biden said in the statement, noting that Democrats don’t currently have the ability to codify abortion rights. “At the federal level, we will need more pro-choice senators and a pro-choice majority in the House to adopt legislation that codifies Roe, which I will work to pass and sign into law.”

But Biden’s ability to rally his party on the issue ahead of the midterms is no sure thing. His restrained response to the possible overturning of Roe did not match the emotion of many women and reproductive rights activists. And his history on the issue of abortion is complicated. A Catholic, Biden has long opposed abortion rights, but his reticence to weigh in over the last year as several states have restricted abortion rights — to say nothing of his reluctance to use the word “abortion” — has frustrated activists.

Democrats, who have been far more eager than Republicans to weigh in on the draft opinion so far, are certain to emphasize the importance of retaining their Senate majority to have the ability to confirm future Biden Supreme Court nominees should a second vacancy arise before the end of his term. They’ll also underscore the importance of governorships given that protecting abortion would fall to the states.

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