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 said 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. He said Roe v. Wade decided that the moment of conception is an open question, adding that any decision that makes a judgment on that question “goes way overboard.”
Earlier Biden released a statement calling on Congress to codify abortion rights and urged voters to elect lawmakers who would support those rights. He declined to say whether he would support changing Senate rules so legislation codifying the right to abortion could not be blocked by a filibuster.
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 called the leak “a singular and egregious breach” of trust and said he had launched an investigation into who was responsible.
“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.”
Politico on Monday published what it said was a draft opinion written by Associate Justice Samuel Alito and supported by a majority of justices.
– John Fritze, USA TODAY
EXPLOSIVE LEAK:Draft in abortion case reveals Supreme Court on verge of overturning Roe
Former President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle issued a strong condemnation of the draft Supreme Court opinion that would overturn Roe v. Wade, saying such a ruling would “relegate the most intensely personal decision someone can make to the whims of politicians and ideologues.”
In a statement posted to his Twitter account, the Obamas said revoking abortion rights would not reduce the number of those procedures but instead force women who can’t afford to get them legally to endanger themselves by seeking illegal abortions.
“Under the Court’s logic, state legislatures could dictate that women carry every pregnancy to term, no matter how early it is and no matter what circumstances led to it — even rape or incest,” the statement said.
The Obamas made a call for those upset by the possibly ruling to get politically involved, both in the Nov. 8 election and in future ones: “Because in the end, if we want judges who will protect all, and not just some, of our rights, then we’ve got to elect officials committed to doing the same.”
Reversal of Roe would have bigger impact on poor and people of color
If Roe v. Wade gets overturned, as seems likely based on the recently leaked Supreme Court draft opinion, women with means will still be able to seek an abortion elsewhere if their home state forbids it. For those who don’t have that option, the choices may be scant.
Half of U.S. states, concentrated in the South, Midwest and Plains, have restrictive abortion laws set to go into effect should the reversal take place. Experts say those who disproportionately have trouble accessing health care, often low-income individuals and people of color, will be most impacted. More than half of the nation’s Black population lives in the South, where women of color, including Hispanic women, make up a significant proportion.
“This will be a giant and larger hurdle placed in front of them,” said Fatima Goss Graves, president of the National Women’s Law Center. “Most people who seek abortion care already have children. And they may not have time off work, access to child care, the things they need to be able … to leave their community to get constitutionally protected health care.”
— Nada Hassanein, USA TODAY
VP Harris assails attack on right to abortion, privacy
Vice President Kamala Harris had a clear message Tuesday for those who want to restrict abortion rights: How dare they?
Speaking at a conference hosted by EMILY’s List, a group that helps elect women candidates, Harris said access to abortion would be severely limited in almost half the country if Roe v. Wade gets overturned, including 13 states with “trigger laws” that would ban the procedure.
“We say, how dare they? How dare they tell a woman what she can do and cannot do with her own body?” Harris said. “When we look at the big picture, those who attack Roe have been clear, they want to ban abortion in every state. They want to bully anyone who seeks or provides reproductive health care.”
Harris warned abortion access might not be the only rights Republicans are looking to restrict, saying same-sex marriage could also be in jeopardy, and urged people to fight for their rights.
“When the right to privacy is attacked, anyone in our country may face a future where the government can interfere with their personal decision,” the vice president said. “Not just women. Anyone. And it has never been more clear.”
— Rebecca Morin
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer vowed Tuesday the Senate will hold a vote to codify abortion rights, calling it “a dark and disturbing day for America” after a leaked Supreme Court opinion detailed the overturning of the landmark Roe v. Wade decision.
“We will vote to protect a woman’s right to choose and every American is going to see which side every senator stands on,” Schumer said.
However, White House press secretary Jen Psaki acknowledged Tuesday that Democrats don’t have the votes in the Senate to codify abortion rights and getting rid of the filibuster wouldn’t do anything to change that math.
Schumer was joined by dozens of other Democratic senators on the front steps of the Capitol in a show of force from Democrats opposed to the potential ruling reported by Politico. While Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, who has opposed past changes of the filibuster, was present, Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, who opposes abortion, was absent.
Democrats used the moment to look ahead to the November midterm elections.
“The rights of 100 million women are now on the ballot,” Schumer said. “Because if Roe v. Wade is overturned, we have to assume there’s more to come.”
Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., predicted the decision would galvanize voters across the country.
“The contours of the November election this year changed,” Durbin said. “We’re going to fight across America.”
– Joey Garrison
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell focused his comments on the Senate floor Tuesday on the leaked 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, he said.
McConnell said the leak was an attack on the court’s independence.
“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,” he said.
Earlier on Tuesday, the Kentucky Republican said criminal charges need to be levied against whoever leaked the draft opinion.
– Candy Woodall, USA TODAY
Former President Donald Trump, who nominated three of the nine current justices in the Supreme Court, said the leak of a draft opinion indicating Roe v. Wade may get overturned “cheapens the court” and puts its members “in a very bad position.”
In an interview with FOXNews.com, Trump expressed dismay that the draft opinion from the court was made public, calling it a “very dangerous precedent,” but said the court’s final ruling won’t have a major impact on the November midterm elections.
Even though he spent the better part of four years trying to plug leaks from within his own administration, Trump was taken aback that this court document came out, in a Politico report published Monday.
“It was so surprising to see coming out of the Supreme Court, because Washington is a city of leaks and yet the Supreme Court, I’ve never seen a leak and people haven’t seen leaks, and that’s for decades,” Trump said.
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
Mary Skinner, a 23-year-old TikToker with more than 1.4 million followers, said she had been crying all morning before stopping by the protest with friend Sasha Erpenbach, 23, to show support for pro-choice activists.
“We’re just so heartbroken and disgusted and shocked,” Skinner said. “Maybe we shouldn’t be shocked. But we are, and since we’re local, I mean, you have no choice but to come out.”
Skinner said she has used her platform on various social media sites to raise funds for local abortion funds and mutual aid networks, in addition to donating herself.
By late afternoon, abortion rights activists listening to speakers including Sen. Ed Markey of Massachusetts appeared to greatly outnumber their anti-abortion counterparts.
Some in the crowd — many of them young women — held signs reading “Bans off our bodies” and “Abortion is health care.” Others held up wire coat hangers.
Earlier in the day, anti-abortion activists clustered outside the high 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, which she deemed the right choice. “Roe v. Wade was an unconstitutional decision, and I believe that it should be overturned,” she said
– Ella Lee, N’dea Yancey-Bragg, USA TODAY
‘WE’RE NEVER GOING BACK’:Protesters descend on Supreme Court to condemn, celebrate possible end of Roe v. Wade
Murkowski, Manchin hold firm to their positions
Two senators whose stance on abortion runs against their party’s position stayed true Tuesday to their long-held beliefs in light of the leaked draft Supreme Court opinion that would overturn the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision.
“If it goes in the direction that this leaked copy has indicated, I would just tell you that it rocks my confidence in the court right now,” said Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, one of the few Senate Republicans who supports abortion rights.
“Roe is still the law of the land,” she said. “We don’t know the direction that this decision may ultimately take.”
Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, an abortion opponent, expressed concern with any effort by his fellow Democrats to eliminate the filibuster to codify abortion rights. As it is, a similar attempt fell short in February when Senate Democrats could only muster 46 votes, so discarding the filibuster would not have made a difference.
“The filibuster is the protection of democracy,” said Manchin, who declined to comment on the leaked draft.
President Joe Biden told reporters he hasn’t made a judgment on whether the Senate should do away with the filibuster to try to codify Roe V. Wade.
– Joey Garrison and Dylan Wells
Online retail giant Amazon.com took a firm stance Monday 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.
– Scott Gleeson, USA TODAY
Schumer, Pelosi blame McConnell and Republicans
In a joint statement, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi pinned the blame for the possibility Roe v. Wade maybe overturned on Republican senators and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
“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
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.
Biden supports abortion rights, but Democrats don’t have the Senate votes
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 Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia voting with Republicans against the legislation. Even if all Democrats back the bill, it would not have enough support to overcome a filibuster.
“I think it’s important to note that there has been a vote on this. It failed,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said. “It did not have even 50 votes, which means even if the filibuster were overturned, there would have not have been enough votes to get this passed.”