Protesters gather on May 3, 2022, in front of the U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C., after news broke the previous night that a draft opinion leaked to the media confirms that the court is considering overturning Roe v. Wade. (Jane Norman/States Newsroom)
WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden said Tuesday that his administration “will be ready when any ruling is issued” on abortion rights, after the nation was rocked by the leak of a draft opinion from the U.S. Supreme Court that confirmed the court is planning to overturn access to abortion.
“I believe that a woman’s right to choose is fundamental, Roe (v. Wade) 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.
Biden did not specifically cite any steps his administration would take if the ruling is overturned, but said that it would “fall on our nation’s elected officials” to protect pregnant people’s access to abortion, and that voters should elect candidates who back abortion rights.
He said that he has directed his Gender Policy Council and White House Counsel’s Office to “prepare options for an Administration response to the continued attack on abortion and reproductive rights, under a variety of possible outcomes in the cases pending before the Supreme Court.”
The draft opinion, led by Justice Samuel Alito, was leaked and reported by Politico, and Biden cautioned that “we do not know whether this draft is genuine, or whether it reflects the final decision of the Court.”
The Office of Public Information at the court late Monday morning issued a statement saying that while the document is authentic, it does not represent a final decision by the court, an ABC News reporter tweeted. Chief Justice John Roberts said in the statement that court employees respect the confidentiality of the judicial process and the release of the draft was a “singular and egregious breach of that trust” and will be investigated.
Biden urged voters to take action. “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,” Biden said.
The Biden administration in December defended its case in the Supreme Court on Mississippi’s 15-week ban on abortion. The case is known as Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health.
If the ruling overturns Roe v. Wade, then access to abortion would be based on a patchwork of state laws. Red states, including Idaho, have introduced some of the most restrictive limits on abortions, while blue states have passed laws to secure access to abortion.
Congressional Democrats have called for codifying Roe v. Wade into law. In a joint statement last night, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said that “the Supreme Court is poised to inflict the greatest restriction of rights in the past fifty years.”
“The Republican-appointed Justices’ reported votes to overturn Roe v. Wade would go down as an abomination, one of the worst and most damaging decisions in modern history,” they said.
Politicians in Idaho respond to abortion case leak
Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson, a Republican, said the leak was a “serious attempt to hijack a trusted institution” and that it should concern Americans of all political ideologies.
“The person who leaked the draft should be investigated and held responsible,” he said in an emailed statement. “My thoughts on the issue have always been clear: the rights of infants, mothers, and healthcare providers who oppose abortion must be protected. I have long fought for pro-life legislation in Congress, and I will continue to do so, regardless of the destructive attempts to undermine and intimidate those who disagree.”
Leaders of the Idaho Democratic Caucus and the Idaho Democratic Party in emailed statements expressed worry about how the U.S. Supreme Court’s possible decision would alter access to reproductive health care in the Gem State.
“This will have especially dangerous consequences for the women and girls living in states like Idaho, where the only thing standing between them and forced pregnancy and birth is the constitutional protection of Roe v. Wade,” Idaho Sen. Melissa Wintrow, D-Boise, said in a statement. “I am thinking about the testimony I’ve borne witness to, the testimony from rape survivors, from survivors of incest, who will have no protections in our state should Roe be overturned.”
Idaho Democratic Party chairwoman Lauren Necochea said Idahoans should be aware that the state is one of 13 states nationwide with a ‘trigger law’ designed to go into effect if Roe is overturned. She said the party will continue to fight for access to reproductive health care, including abortions.
“For 50 years Idahoans have had the protection of Roe blocking the most radical urges of the Republican supermajority from becoming reality,” she said in a statement. “The Roe ruling is the only thing that has prevented Idaho’s Republican lawmakers from eliminating access to safe, legal abortions and privacy to make health care decisions in consultation with loved ones and medical professionals — free of overreach from the state or federal government.”
Idaho Capital Sun editor-in-chief Christina Lords contributed to this report.
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