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Biden promises abortion legalization if Democrats control Congress


Brendan Smialowski | AFP

John Burger - published on 10/20/22

President stirs up voters three weeks ahead of midterm elections.

President Joe Biden said Tuesday that if the Democratic Party takes control of both houses of Congress next month, the first bill he would send their way is a codification of abortion rights.

“I want to remind us all how we felt that day,” Biden said, referring to June 24, the day the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. “The anger, the worry, the disbelief, the unbelievable fact that for the first time in our history, the Supreme Court didn’t just fail to preserve a constitutional freedom, it actually took away the right that was so fundamental to Americans. … And the fear that now that most personal decisions may not only be made by the woman and her doctor, but by politicians to make that decision.”

The president spoke at a “Restore Roe” event hosted by the Democratic National Committee at the Howard Theatre in Washington. 

“If you care about the right to choose, then you got to vote,” he said, three weeks before the Midterm Elections. 

“We’re only 22 days away from the most consequential election in our history, in my view — in recent history at least — elections where the choice and the stakes are crystal clear, especially when it comes to the right to choose,” he said, according to a White House transcript

The Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization effectively returned to the individual states the right to regulate – or even ban – abortion, almost 50 years after Roe denied them that option. Since then, 14 states have banned the procedure, except in cases where a pregnancy threatens the life of the mother. Some states, like New York and California, on the other hand, have passed laws strengthening abortion rights there, and Biden and other abortion advocates have called for federal legislation doing likewise. 

Reacting to Biden’s remarks, National Right to Life President Carol Tobias tweeted: “The bill that will be Biden’s top priority if Dems keep control of Congress would not just ‘codify Roe.’ It would allow unlimited abortion for any reason through all 9 months of pregnancy, paid for by tax $. The president’s top priority is killing preborn children.”

Economy more important?

Democrats currently control the House of Representatives, but the Senate is almost evenly split, and Republicans there have blocked efforts to introduce pro-abortion bills in the upper chamber. In fact, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., introduced a bill that would ban abortion after 15 weeks gestation. 

Biden on Tuesday referred to that bill, saying, “If Republicans get their way with a national ban, it won’t matter where you live in America.” He said he would veto it if it ever passed. 

The New York Times noted that Biden’s focus on abortion” reflects the anxiety among Democrats that the issue of abortion is losing resonance with voters. A New York Times/Siena poll released this week found that the economy was a far more important issue to voters and that women who identified as independent voters were swinging sharply in favor of Republicans.”

Biden encouraged Democrats to vote in reaction to the Dobbs decision, and reminded his audience that abortion advocates already scored a victory soon after the court ruling – rejecting a Kansas referendum that would have clarified that the state’s constitution does not guarantee a right to abortion.  

“Just take a look at what happened in Kansas,” he said, to applause. “And come this November, we’re going to see what happens all over America, God willing.”

Biden, the nation’s second Catholic president after John F. Kennedy, said that Roe v. Wade “recognized the fundamental right to privacy that has served as a basis for many more rights that are — were — were to come and to take — we’ve taken for granted of late.  And they’re ingrained in the fabric of this country: the right to make a decision — the best decision for your health; the right to birth control — the right that I pushed hard and it finally got changed — the married couples in the privacy of their bedroom. … the right to marry who you love.”

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