‘A sad day’: Biden condemns Supreme Court abortion ruling

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WASHINGTON — In sharp and somber remarks from the White House, President Biden criticized the Supreme Court’s decision to deprive millions of women across the country of the federal right to terminate a pregnancy.

“So many of us are frustrated and disillusioned,” Biden said.

The right to abortion had been protected by the 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade. But with that precedent now overturned, Republican states can outlaw abortion altogether.

Roe’s demise came courtesy of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health, in which six justices agreed that abortion was not an inherent right and could thus be curbed altogether. Biden called the ruling “a realization of an extreme ideology and a tragic error” by the court, which at present only includes three liberals.

President Biden at the microphone, wearing a pained expression.
President Biden speaks at the White House in Washington, D.C., on June 24. (Andrew Harnik/AP)

“It is a sad day for the court and a sad day for the country,” Biden said, having noted his own long-standing support for abortion. He and other Democrats believe that Friday’s ruling could motivate voters in November’s congressional midterms, especially since the vast majority of Americans do not favor criminalizing abortion altogether.

“With your vote, you can act. You can have the final word. This is not over,” Biden said, echoing what House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said earlier in the day at her weekly press conference. Their reminder of the upcoming election suggests that Supreme Court decisions on abortion and, on the day before, guns, could be used to motivate an otherwise despondent Democratic base.

“This fall, Roe is on the ballot,” the president said. As he spoke from the Cross Hall of the White House, high-profile women in his administration — domestic policy adviser Susan Rice, staff secretary Neera Tanden and press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre – watched from a staircase.

Attending to their cellphones, White House staff wait for the arrival of President Biden, next to a portrait of President Bill Clinton.
White House domestic policy adviser Susan Rice, right, and other White House staff stand on the stairs off the Cross Hall, as they wait for President Biden to speak on June 24. (Andrew Harnik/AP)

Although the Dobbs decision had been widely expected since the leak of a draft opinion to Politico in May, it was not until the ruling was finally issued on Friday that the reality of a post-Roe nation became impossible to ignore. In 13 states, existing “trigger laws” call for abortion to become illegal as soon as Roe is revoked.

In the aftermath of the ruling, protesters gathered in front of the Supreme Court, and Washington, D.C., braced for the prospect of protests. Biden pleaded with demonstrators to “keep all protests peaceful.”

The president also vowed to make it easier for women to gain access to abortifacient medications. Both he and U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland vowed to protect women who may need to travel to a state where they do not live in order to obtain an abortion.

“We recognize that traveling to obtain reproductive care may not be feasible in many circumstances,” Garland said in a statement of his own. “But under bedrock constitutional principles, women who reside in states that have banned access to comprehensive reproductive care must remain free to seek that care in states where it is legal.”