Joe Biden says ‘I support woman’s right to choose’ amid Supreme Court Roe v Wade abortion controversy

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Pro-life and pro-choice protesters at the US Supreme Court (REUTERS)
Pro-life and pro-choice protesters at the US Supreme Court (REUTERS)

US president Joe Biden has slammed moves by the Supreme Court to overturn the landmark 1973 Roe v Wade decision which gave the right to access abortions nationwide.

Mr Biden’s intervention comes after a draft of a judgement suggesting the landmark decision could be overturned was published by news website, Politico.

He said in a statement: “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”.

He said his administration was preparing for all eventualities for when the court ultimately made its ruling and that it would raise the stakes for voters at the midterm elections in November.

“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," Mr Biden said.

“And it will fall on voters to elect pro-choice officials this November.

“At the federal level, we will need more pro-choice senators and a pro-choice majority in the house to adopt legislation that codifies Roe, which I will work to pass and sign into law.”

Critics say the decision would be among the most harmful in the court’s history if enacted. Around half of the states could enact abortion bans if Roe were to be overturned.

The court said on Tuesday that it will launch an investigation of how the draft was leaked to the news outlet Politico. It added that the document - authored by conservative Justice Samuel Alito - does not represent "the final position of any member" of the high court.

 (REUTERS)
(REUTERS)

"I have directed the Marshal of the Court to launch an investigation into the source of the leak," Chief Justice John Roberts said, calling it an "egregious breach" of trust.

The draft’s publication represents an extremely rare breach of the court’s secretive deliberation process.

It states: “Roe was egregiously wrong from the start”.

It was signed by Justice Samuel Alito, a member of the court’s six-three conservative majority who was appointed by former president George W Bush.

The document was the first draft of a majority opinion in a case known as Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organisation which is challenging Mississippi’s ban on abortion after 15 weeks.

The court is expected to rule on the case before its term ends in late June or early July.

"We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled," stated the draft, referencing the 1992 case Planned Parenthood v Casey that affirmed Roe’s finding of a constitutional right to abortion services but allowed states to place some constraints on the practice.

“It is time to heed the constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives.”

Several Republican-led states, most recently Oklahoma, have pushed to restrict abortion access, even before the court issues its decision.

Among those criticising the draft was Congress’ two top Democrats, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.

They said in a joint statement: “If the report is accurate, the Supreme Court is poised to inflict the greatest restriction of rights in the past 50 years - not just on women but on all Americans.”

But Republican figures, such as Madison Cawthorn, a congressman from North Carolina, celebrated the draft, writing: “Because of Donald J Trump, Roe v Wade will be overturned.”

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