Pushing for a last-minute boost for his party in next month’s midterm elections, President Joe Biden said this afternoon that he’ll ask Congress to legislatively codify the right to have an abortion if the Democrats remain in power.
Biden detailed his pitch to voters and a potential new Congress in a speech at Washington’s Howard Theatre, saying he plans to make his first action under the next Congress to send legislators a bill that would make the right to an abortion the law of the land. The Supreme Court in June ruled that the nearly 50-year-old Roe v. Wade decision had been improperly decided, a nearly unprecedented move by a conservative court that not only reversed what had been considered settled law but also for the first time eliminated what had been considered a right under the Constitution.
With that ruling came a wave of legislation in conservative states that either restricted or outright banned the procedure, but also brought legal and ethical complications. As abortion clinics shuttered, some doctors fretted over what procedures they could perform without risking civil lawsuits or criminal prosecutions. Women who needed life-saving medical care were forced to travel across state lines for procedures that would have run afoul of their states’ new laws. States such as New York rushed to pass new laws either guaranteeing the right to an abortion or protecting the privacy of women from states with bans who traveled for the procedure.
In the meantime, abortion became a central issue during a campaign season that otherwise would have been mainly about the economy and inflation. In most polling, the majority of voters support legalized abortion without regard to party affiliation, a fact that Biden and Democrats hope to exploit, especially among women who might otherwise lean Republican.