(WASHINGTON) — President Joe Biden weighed in Tuesday morning on the leaked draft Supreme Court opinion showing the panel’s conservative majority of justices is poised to overturn nearly 50 years of established abortion rights in America.
“It concerns me a great deal that, after 50 years, we’re going to decide that a woman doesn’t have the right to choose,” Biden told reporters at Joint Base Andrews, en route to Alabama to visit a facility that manufactures Javelin anti-tank missiles. “But even more equally profound is the rationale used — and it would mean that every other decision relating to the notion of privacy is thrown into question.”
“The idea that we’re going to make a judgment that is going to say that no one can make the judgment to choose to abort a child, based on a decision by the Supreme Court, I think goes way overboard,” he said.
Biden called the decision “radical” if it holds, and added, “The codification of Roe makes a lot of sense.”
In an earlier written statement, Biden began with a caveat — lightly acknowledging the unprecedented nature of seeing a draft opinion before the court’s formal ruling — before launching into a three-part defense of Roe v. Wade by his administration.
“We do not know whether this draft is genuine, or whether it reflects the final decision of the Court. With that critical caveat, I want to be clear on three points about the cases before the Supreme Court,” Biden said in a rare statement on an even rarer event.
“First, my administration argued strongly before the Court in defense of Roe v. Wade,” Biden said, referencing oral arguments in December before the justices. “We said that Roe is based on “a long line of precedent recognizing ‘the Fourteenth Amendment’s concept of personal liberty’… against government interference with intensely personal decisions.”
“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.
He said his administration was already preparing for the outcome — but called on American voters to elect pro-choice candidates in November and on congressional lawmakers to codify Roe into law.
“Second, shortly after the enactment of Texas law SB 8 and other laws restricting women’s reproductive rights, I directed my 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. We will be ready when any ruling is issued,” he continued.
“Third, 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,” he said. “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 court has since acknowledged the draft is “authentic” but said it was not a decision of the court and not final.
The document, which Politico said Monday night it obtained from a “person familiar with the court’s proceedings,” is marked “first draft” and dated Feb. 10, 2022 — two months after oral arguments were heard in the case Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health.
“Roe was egregiously wrong from the start,” wrote Justice Samuel Alito, the draft opinion’s author, in a copy posted online.
If Alito’s opinion were to hold, as written, it would dramatically upend abortion rights across America, effectively allowing each state to set its own policy.
“The Constitution does not prohibit the citizens of each State from regulating or prohibiting abortion,” the draft concludes. “Roe and Casey arrogated that authority. We now overrule those decisions and return that authority to the people and their elected representatives.”
The stunning leak comes as Tuesday marks the first multi-state contest of the 2022 midterm election season and as several states have already enacted restrictions on abortion rights.
ABC News’ Devin Dwyer contributed to this report.
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