(WASHINGTON) — President Joe Biden on Friday harshly criticized the Supreme Court’s decision upending abortion rights and called on Congress to enshrine access in federal law.
“It’s a sad day for the court and the country,” Biden said as he delivered remarks from the Cross Hall of the White House.
“Today the Supreme Court of the United States expressly took away a constitutional right from the American people that it had already recognized,” he said. ‘They didn’t limit it, they simply took it away. That’s never been done to a right so important to so many Americans but they did it.”
The court’s conservative majority voted Friday to overturn Roe v. Wade as it upheld a Mississippi law that bans nearly all abortions past 15 weeks of pregnancy.
Justice Samuel Alito, who also authored the bombshell draft opinion leaked to the public earlier this year indicating this outcome, wrote in the opinion that Roe was “egregiously wrong from the start.”
“Abortion presents a profound moral question,” Alito wrote. “The Constitution does not prohibit the citizens of each State from regulating or prohibiting abortion. Roe and Casey arrogated that authority. The Court overrules those decisions and returns that authority to the people and their elected representatives.”
The Supreme Court’s three liberal justices slammed the majority’s opinion, writing that the decision essentially “says that from the very moment of fertilization, a woman has no rights to speak of.”
Biden said he believed Roe was correctly decided, calling Friday’s ruling a “tragic error” by the high court.
Biden called on Congress to take action to enshrine abortion rights at the federal level.
“No executive action from the president can do that,” Biden said.
“This fall, Roe is on the ballot,” he added.
“This decision must not be the final word,” he said. “With your vote, you can act. You can have the final word.”
He called out President Donald Trump’s influence by name.
“It was three justices, named by one president, Donald Trump, who are the core of today’s decision to upend the scales of justice and eliminate a fundamental right for women in this country,” he said.
“Make no mistake: this decision is a culmination of a deliberate effort over decades to upset the balance of our law,” he said. “It is a realization of an extreme ideology, and a tragic error by the Supreme Court, in my view.”
Abortion rights activists previously told ABC News they believed Biden could employ the Food and Drug Administration and Medicaid to fill gaps in care.
Biden took such action on Friday, stating he was instructing the Department of Health and Human Services — which oversees the FDA — to take steps to protect access to medication abortion in the wake of Roe being overturned.
Biden also expressed concern Friday that the ruling would impact other Supreme Court decisions relating to the notion of privacy — such as contraception and same-sex marriage rights.
Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, in his concurring opinion on Friday, stated such unenumerated rights should be reconsidered.
Thomas specifically called for the reconsideration of Griswold v. Connecticut, which established the right of married couples to use contraception; Lawrence v. Texas, which protects the right to same-sex romantic relationships; and Obergefell v. Hodges, which establishes the right to same-sex marriage.
“Because any substantive due process decision is ‘demonstrably erroneous,’ we have a duty to ‘correct the error’ established in those precedents,” he wrote.
The Supreme Court’s ruling was met with immediate protest from individuals on both sides of the abortion debate. Biden called on Americans to keep all protests peaceful.
ABC News’ Ben Gittleson contributed to this report.
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