'The president is committed to codifying Roe': White House backs abortion rights as Supreme Court takes on controversial case

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President Biden will continue to advocate for the rights established under Roe v. Wade regardless of what the Supreme Court decides on a case challenging a Mississippi law that bans abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

“The president is committed to codifying Roe, regardless of the ... outcome of this case,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Monday, referring to Roe v. Wade, the historic ruling that legalized abortion on a national scale.

The Supreme Court announced Monday that it would consider the challenge to the Mississippi law. Last year, the court struck down a Louisiana law regulating abortion clinics with a 5-4 vote, but the balance has since changed with the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who was replaced by the Trump-appointed Amy Coney Barrett.

Supporters of abortion rights fear that former President Donald Trump’s reshaping of the courts through appointments of conservative judges — including the confirmation of three new conservative Supreme Court justices — puts the future of Roe v. Wade in danger.

Abortion rights demonstrators rally outside the Supreme Court with signs reading
Abortion rights demonstrators rally outside the Supreme Court in Washington in March 2020. (Jacquelyn Martin/AP)

Biden campaigned on a promise to codify abortion rights by passing federal legislation, though he likely lacks the kind of bipartisan support needed to pass any bill that provides protections similar to those afforded by Roe v. Wade. Only two Republicans have voiced support, though their vote is not guaranteed, and the GOP has argued that passing federal legislation in this area would infringe on states’ rights.

The White House in the meantime is currently attempting to push several other bills through Congress, all of which need — and do not currently have — across-the-aisle support to guarantee they will pass.

Psaki declined to comment specifically on the Supreme Court’s decision to hear the case, but she did clarify that Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris would continue to fight for reproductive rights.

“Generally speaking, given this is a state law, I can say that over the last four years critical rights like the right to health care, the right to choose, have been under withering and extreme attack, including through draconian state laws,” Psaki said. “And the president and the vice president are devoted to ensuring that every American has access to health care, including reproductive health care, regardless of their income, ZIP code, race, health insurance status or immigration status.”

The White House has previously reaffirmed the president’s commitment to supporting the rights established under Roe v. Wade — a promise Biden made repeatedly on the campaign trail. Just days following his inauguration, he said in a statement that reproductive health had been under “relentless attack” during the Trump administration.


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