President Joe Biden on Friday criticized the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, a 50-year-old ruling that characterized access to abortion as a constitutional right.
Biden referred to former President Donald Trump in his speech by name, saying that three justices that voted to overturn Roe v. Wade were appointed by him. The current president then alleged that Friday’s decision was the result of decades of conservative and religious groups’ attempts to get the law struck down.
“It’s a sad day for the court and a sad day for the country,” Biden said, adding that the 50-year-old ruling gave women the “power to control their own destiny.”
Biden then claimed that women’s reproductive health around the United States is now “at risk,” although states that choose to pass laws allowing abortions are still free to do so under the Friday ruling. Biden noted that women can still travel from a state that restricts abortion to another state that doesn’t have such laws to obtain one.
Later in his speech, Biden called on people to vote for candidates who will work to pass laws that support abortions during the 2022 midterms, suggesting that Democrats will likely use the Supreme Court ruling as a push to get their candidates elected to Congress.
“This doesn’t mean the fight’s over,” Biden said, adding that “only Congress can … restore the protections of Roe v. Wade as federal law” and that “voters need to make their voices heard.”
Biden ended with a call to protesters to keep demonstrations “peaceful” and condemned “violence of any form” to pressure the Supreme Court.
DOJ Also ‘Strongly Disagrees’
Biden’s speech Friday follows a statement issued by Attorney General Merrick Garland, who disagreed with the Supreme Court’s majority opinion.
“The Justice Department strongly disagrees with the Court’s decision,” Garland wrote. “This decision deals a devastating blow to reproductive freedom in the United States. It will have an immediate and irreversible impact on the lives of people across the country. And it will be greatly disproportionate in its effect—with the greatest burdens felt by people of color and those of limited financial means.”
But writing for the majority, Justice Samuel Alito argued that the U.S. Constitution “does not prohibit the citizens of each State from regulating or prohibiting abortion” and that Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, a 1992 ruling that reaffirmed Roe, arrogated the authority of the nation’s founding law.
“The Constitution does not prohibit the citizens of each State from regulating or prohibiting abortion. Roe and Casey arrogated that authority. We now overrule those decisions and return that authority to the people and their elected representatives,” Alito said.
The justice argued that only legislatures—not courts—can make such decisions on abortions. Both Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey rulings, he wrote, were wrong when they were issued.
“The Supreme Court has eliminated an established right that has been an essential component of women’s liberty for half a century—a right that has safeguarded women’s ability to participate fully and equally in society,” Garland wrote. “And in renouncing this fundamental right, which it had repeatedly recognized and reaffirmed, the Court has upended the doctrine of stare decisis, a key pillar of the rule of law.”
At least 13 states have laws on the books stipulating that as soon as Roe v. Wade is overturned, their respective laws restricting abortion will go into effect.