Washington, May 3 (EFE).- The president of the United States said Tuesday that his administration is preparing a response to a potential Supreme Court ruling this summer overturning Roe v. Wade.
Joe Biden released his statement after a leaked Supreme Court draft opinion written by Associate Justice Samuel Alito indicated the conservative-majority court may be preparing to overturn that landmark 1973 high-court decision.
Roe v. Wade made abortion a federal constitutional right up to the point of fetal viability, which then was around 28 weeks but has since fallen to around 23 weeks due to medical advances.
In the statement, the president said that shortly after passage of a Texas law curtailing abortion rights, as well as other similar state legislation, he instructed White House lawyers to prepare “options for an Administration response to the continued attack on abortion and reproductive rights.”
“A woman’s right to choose is fundamental, Roe has been the law of the land for almost 50 years, and basic fairness and the stability of our law demand that it not be overturned,” Biden’s statement read.
He also urged American voters to cast ballots for pro-choice lawmakers in November’s mid-term elections.
“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,” Biden said. “And it will fall on voters to elect pro-choice officials this November.”
“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,” the president said.
Biden made further comments to reporters on the leaked opinion before boarding Air Force One for a trip to Alabama.
“If this decision holds, it is really quite a radical decision,” he said. “It goes far beyond the concern of a right to choose, it goes to other basic rights, the right to marriage, the right to determine a whole range of things.”
“There are so many fundamental rights that are affected by that, and I’m not prepared to leave that to the whims of the public at the moment,” he said, rejecting the idea that access to abortion could be left to individual states to decide.
Also supporting the Supreme Court draft opinion, according to Politico, were four other conservative justices – Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett.
That indicates enough backing for at least a 5-4 ruling. Chief Justice John Roberts also is considered a conservative, although he has sided with the three liberal members of the court on different rulings, including in rejecting a Louisiana law that curtailed abortion rights.
The Politico website, which published the leaked opinion, quoted Alito as writing that “Roe was egregiously wrong from the start” and that its “reasoning was exceptionally weak.”
“We hold that Roe and (the 1992 Supreme Court ruling in Planned Parenthood vs.) Casey must be overruled. It is time to heed the constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives.”
Since the leaked opinion is only a draft, it could still change; a definitive high-court ruling on a major Mississippi case concerning that state’s attempt to ban nearly all abortions after 15 weeks is not expected to be issued until late June or early July.
Besides Biden, other prominent Democrats also quickly responded to the apparent threat to Roe v. Wade.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) on Tuesday vowed to hold a vote on codifying abortion rights.
“The Senate will hold a vote on legislation to codify the right to an abortion in law,” Schumer tweeted. “This is not an abstract exercise. This is urgent. We will vote on protecting women’s right to choose, and every American is going to see which side every senator stands on.”
Republican lawmaker Mike Lee, for his part, slammed the leaking of the draft opinion to the media.