US President Joe Biden urged voters on Tuesday to defend “fundamental” rights after a leaked Supreme Court draft ruling indicated the imminent end to nationwide legal abortion, long viewed as a basic freedom by tens of millions of Americans.
If the draft ruling is confirmed by the court, it would overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, which enshrined abortion rights across the country. Instantly, abortion laws would be left up to individual state legislatures, with as many as half expected to enact bans or new restrictions.
For many women, the potential loss of abortion rights across swaths of the United States raises the prospect of being forced to travel hundreds of miles for the procedure or giving birth in traumatic circumstances.
“I’ll fight it with every breath I have,” said Lynn Hart, a grandmother of four, who had an abortion when she was a teenager before the landmark 1973 ruling made it a right across the whole country.
Republicans have pushed hard for years to overturn Roe, and it became only a matter of time after three conservative justices were appointed under former president Donald Trump, shifting the Supreme Court’s political balance sharply to the right.
Politico news site’s publishing of the leaked ruling late Monday thrust the intensely divisive issue to the center of the November congressional midterms elections, potentially even opening a path for beleaguered Democrats to stem expected losses.
Biden, whose Democrats have been forecast to lose their already narrow control of Congress, issued a rallying cry to the left, warning that restricting abortion rights will be only the beginning.
“I believe that a woman’s right to choose is fundamental... and basic fairness and the stability of our law demand that it not be overturned,” Biden said in a written statement.
“It will fall on voters to elect” officials who back abortion rights, he said, vowing to work to pass legislation in Congress that codifies Roe v. Wade – a goal impossible to achieve unless far more Democrats win seats.
Speaking later to reporters, Biden went further, calling the draft ruling “radical” and warning of a “fundamental shift in American jurisprudence” that could put into question the future of gay marriage and “how you raise your child.”