WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden said Tuesday that a “whole range of rights” beyond abortion are in question if the Supreme Court overturns Roe V. Wade.
“It’s really quite a radical decision,” Biden told reporters in his first public comments about a leaked draft Supreme Court opinion indicating the high court may be on the cusp of upending the landmark 1973 decision that established a constitutional right to abortion. “It’s a fundamental shift in American jurisprudence.”
Biden said the same arguments included in the draft opinion could also be used to strike down the right of gays and lesbians to marry as well as constitutional protections for birth control.
“Every other decision based on the notion of privacy is thrown into question,” Biden told reporters before flying to Alabama to tour a defense production facility.
Biden said Roe V. Wade decided that the moment of conception is an open question, adding that any decision that makes a judgement on that question “goes way overboard.”
His comments came about an hour after he released a statement calling on Congress to pass legislation to codify abortion rights and urged voters to elect abortion-rights lawmakers.
“If the court does overturn Roe, it will fall on our nation’s elected officials at all levels of government to protect a woman’s right to choose,” Biden said earlier in his statement. “And it will fall on voters to elect pro-choice officials this November.”
Asked what overturning Roe V. Wade could mean for Democrats’ argument in November’s midterm elections, Biden told reporters, “I haven’t thought that through yet.”
He also declined to say if he would support changing Senate rules so legislation codifying the right to abortion could not be blocked by a filibuster.
“I’m not prepared to make those judgements now,” Biden told reporters.
Biden cautioned that the White House does not know whether a draft court opinion reported by Politico is genuine or reflects the court’s final decision.
USA TODAY could not independently verify the draft ruling.
Roberts verifies leaked draft report is authentic, launches investigation
The Supreme Court on Tuesday verified that a leaked draft opinion published by Politico in the most important abortion case in decades was an authentic document but pushed back on the notion that it represented the final decision of the court.
In a statement, Chief Justice John Roberts said he had launched an investigation into who leaked the document.
“To the extent this betrayal of the confidences of the court was to undermine the integrity of our operations, it will not succeed,” Roberts said. “The work of the court will not be affected in any way.”
— John Fritze, USA TODAY
Amazon announces benefit to pay for US employees who travel for abortions
Online retail giant Amazon.com took a firm stance Monday pushing against a prevailing Republican-led push to restrict access to abortion, telling its staff that it would pay up to $4,000 in travel expenses for non-life threatening medical treatments that include abortion.
In a message sent to employees, obtained by Reuters, Amazon told its employees that the new work benefit would apply to an employee if an operation could not be done within 100 miles of their home and virtual care is not accessible. That will be put in place for all corporate and warehouse employees or covered dependents enrolled in the company’s Premera or Aetna health plans, according to the memo.
Amazon’s benefit would kick into place in January of 2023. It applies to all non-life threatening treatments – not just abortion – including cardiology, cellular gene therapies and substance-abuse disorder services.
The move comes on the heels of other major companies – Citigroup and Yelp most recently – creating work benefits that combat state laws adjusting legal changes in employees’ health benefits. Lyft and Uber said publicly they would cover legal fees for drivers sued under Texas’ new law limiting access to abortions, which went into effect in September 2021.
— Scott Gleeson, USA TODAY
EXPLOSIVE LEAK:Draft in abortion case reveals Supreme Court on verge of overturning Roe
McConnell: Justices should “tune out the bad-faith noise” and “do their jobs”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell focused his comments on the Senate floor Tuesday on the reported leak of the Supreme Court opinion, saying it should be “investigated and punished to the fullest extent possible.”
It was a “shocking, shocking breach” that likely came from “inside the court itself” with the intention to change the outcome.
McConnell said it was “an attack on the independence of the Supreme Court” and part of the “radical Left’s ongoing campaign to bully and intimidate federal judges.”
“All nine justices should tune out the bad-faith noise and feel totally free to do their jobs, following the facts and the law where they lead.”
— Candy Woodall, USA TODAY
SECRET DELIBERATIONS Supreme Court deliberations are supposed to be secret. So how did a draft abortion opinion leak?
Protesters return to Supreme Court after Roe draft leaks
Demonstrators gathered in front of barricades at the Supreme Court again Tuesday morning following the leak of a draft of an opinion suggesting the court is considering overturning the landmark Roe v. Wade decision.
Anti-abortion activists clustered outside the nation’s highest court with megaphones and multi-colored posters, loudly chanting “babies never choose to die” and “pro-choice is a … lie.” Maggie Donica, 21, chanted into a megaphone outside the Supreme Court Tuesday that “abortion is oppression.”
Donica said her primary reason for protesting is to return the right to decide on abortion to states.
“(Overturning Roe) is a statement of neutrality and it gives the states back the right to make their decisions, which is very constitutional, that the states make the decisions on all medical matters,” she said. “Roe v. Wade was an unconstitutional decision, and I believe that it should be overturned.”
A smaller group of abortion-rights activists stood mostly in silence, holding signs with phrases like “abortion saves lives” and “my body my choice.”
George Washington University freshman Ellie Small, 19, took a break from studying for finals Tuesday morning to protest the potential overturning of Roe v. Wade.
“We’re back today, we’re gonna go finish up our finals and then we’ll be back again tonight,” said Small adding that if the decision is overturned they will “really need to mobilize in our home states and in our local legislators so that we can protect our right to abortion.”
More demonstrators are expected to arrive later this afternoon and protests are planned for 5 p.m. in state capitals around the country. Crowds first began to congregate in front of the high court within hours of the leak to celebrate and condemn the potential ruling.
– Ella Lee, USA TODAY
‘WE’RE NEVER GOING BACK’:Protesters descend on Supreme Court to condemn, celebrate possible end of Roe v. Wade
Schumer: Senate will vote on abortion rights
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said he would hold a Senate vote on legislation to enshrine abortion rights.
“Now that the court is poised to strike down Roe, it is my intention for the Senate to hold a vote on legislation to codify the right to an abortion in law,” he announced on the Senate floor Tuesday morning.
“This is as urgent and real as it gets,” he said. “Every American is going to see on which side every senator stands.”
In a joint statement with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi released Monday evening, the two Democratic leaders pinned the blame on Republican senators and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.
“Every Republican senator who supported Senator McConnell and voted for Trump Justices pretending that this day would never come will now have to explain themselves to the American people,” they said.
– Dylan Wells, USA TODAY
‘FIVE-ALARM FIRE’:Leaked abortion memo from Supreme Court has lawmakers, candidates reacting
Vice President Harris scheduled to speak at abortion rights conference Tuesday night
Vice President Kamala Harris is scheduled to speak Tuesday night at an abortion rights conference. Harris’ appearance at the 30th Annual We Are EMILY National Conference and Gala was scheduled before Politico published Monday the draft Supreme Court opinion.
President Joe Biden, who said he personally opposes abortion, has adjusted his position on the issue over the years.
During the 2020 campaign, Biden reversed his decades-long support for the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits federal funding for most abortions. He framed his new view in the context of one of his top priorities: creating a more equitable society for people of color and other marginalized groups.
Fight over access to abortion has been raging in states
Soon after taking office, President Joe Biden allowed federal funds to flow again to international groups that provide or refer patients for abortion services. He has also lifted the Trump-era restrictions on U.S. clinics that provide abortion counseling or services.
In September, the Justice Department sued the state of Texas in an attempt to block the enforcement of a strict abortion law decried by the Biden administration as an untenable denial of reproductive health care for women.
Biden also supports the Women’s Health Protection Act, legislation to enshrine into federal law the right to access and perform an abortion. The bill passed the House last year but failed in February to get enough Senate votes to advance.
The 46-48 vote was nearly party line with the exception of Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia who voted with Republicans against the legislation.
Even if all Democrats back the bill, it would not have enough support to overcome a filibuster.
Biden has backed limited proposed changes to the filibuster, including to pass stalled voting rights legislation – but not to advance the Women’s Health Protection Act.
Biden has also resisted calls to expand the number of justices on the Supreme Court in hopes of getting rulings more favorable for abortion rights.
Leaked abortion opinion adds more fuel to already raging fire over Roe v. Wade
Shock rippled out from the nation’s heart Monday night following a leaked revelation the U.S. Supreme Court may overturn Roe v. Wade and allow states to ban abortion.
Politico on Monday evening published what it said was a draft opinion, written by Associate Justice Samuel Alito and supported by a majority of justices, overturning the landmark 1973 ruling establishing a constitutional right to abortion.
USA TODAY could not independently verify the draft ruling. A final decision is not expected for at least two months, and justices could change their minds and rule differently, regardless of what the leaked draft report says now.
While abortion-rights activists have been warning the court was poised to overturn Roe, Monday’s revelation sparked new furor and fear. If overturned by the court, at least 20 states would immediately make abortion illegal, based on already-passed laws.
“This is going to be an unprecedented earthquake in American life,” said Amelia Bonow, founder of the Seattle-based national abortion-access group Shout Your Abortion. “We reject the legitimacy of this court, full stop. We will not comply, we will not obey. We will not follow these laws. It’s just not happening.”