President Joe Biden has issued a response to a document leaked from the Supreme Court that suggests the high court has decided to strike down Roe v. Wade, the 1973 seminal precedent that made abortion legal throughout the United States.
The draft majority opinion authored by Justice Samuel Alito was published by Politico and later confirmed as authentic by the Supreme Court.
In a statement issued before that confirmation, Biden said that the White House was unsure of its authenticity before reaffirming his administration’s efforts to argue in support of Roe v. Wade, with Biden saying, “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.”
The statement also notes the administration’s efforts to prepare to respond to state-level laws limiting abortions saying, “we will be ready when any ruling is issued.”
Finally, Biden’s statement calls for legislation codifying Roe v. Wade should its ruling be overturned.
“It will fall on our nation’s elected officials at all levels of government to protect a woman’s right to choose,” the statement reads.
In a 2,400-word article published at 8:32 p.m. on May 2, Politico describes the draft opinion as “a full-throated, unflinching repudiation of the 1973 decision which guaranteed federal constitutional protections of abortion rights and a subsequent 1992 decision–Planned Parenthood v. Casey–that largely maintained the right.” The opinion is 67 pages long, followed by a 31-page appendix.
Members of Congress are also issuing statements on the leaked Supreme Court opinion—with Democrats joining the president in decrying efforts to overturn Roe while Republicans condemning what would be an unprecedented breach of Supreme Court protocol if the document is genuine and it was in fact leaked.
“If the reports are true, overturning Roe v. Wade would be a major victory for the Pro Life movement and protecting the unborn. However, the leak of the Supreme Court opinion is an inexcusable breach of trust,” wrote Rep. Tom Rice (R-S.C.) on Twitter, adding that “integrity and respect for our most precious institutions is eroding and that should be unacceptable by all.”
“Reversing the long-settled protections in Roe is outrageous. Every woman in America deserves the chance to make their own reproductive health care choices,” wrote Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) adding, “should this decision become law, roughly half the states in our country will make all or nearly all abortions illegal, leading to gross inequalities in health care access.”
Matthew Vadum contributed to this report.