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President Joe Biden. Picture: BLOOMBERG
President Joe Biden. Picture: BLOOMBERG

US President Joe Biden urged the election of more legislators who supported abortion rights and said he would seek to enshrine the protections of Roe v Wade into US law, following a report that the US Supreme Court was poised to overturn the landmark ruling.

“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,” Biden said in a statement Tuesday.

Politico reported on Monday night that it had obtained a draft majority opinion of the justices that would strike down the 1973 ruling, touching off demonstrations outside the Supreme Court.

“We do not know whether this draft is genuine, or whether it reflects the final decision of the court,” Biden said.

Striking down Roe would reshape the battle between Democrats and Republicans for control of Congress in the November midterm elections, potentially energising both parties’ bases. Congress’s top two Democrats — Senate majority leader Chuck Schumer and house speaker Nancy Pelosi — said in a statement on Monday night that the decision “would go down as an abomination, one of the worst and most damaging decisions in modern history”.

Codifying the protections of the Roe v Wade decision into US statute would be one of the most difficult legislative battles of the modern era. Democrats and the few Republicans who support abortion rights would most likely need to hold at least 60 seats in the Senate to pass legislation securing abortion rights over a Republican filibuster.

A House-passed bill to codify Roe was blocked in February in the Senate on a 46-48 vote. West Virginia senator Joe Manchin, a conservative Democrat who has obstructed much of President Joe Biden’s agenda, voted with Republicans to filibuster the bill. And some key supporters of abortion rights — Democrat Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Republicans Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska — have long opposed changing the 60-vote threshold for advancing such bills.

A decision to overturn Roe could reverberate through the 2024 presidential campaign and magnify attention on gubernatorial and legislative races around the country, as it would give states more power to decide the legality of abortions. The Democratic National Committee said reproductive rights will be on the ballot in November “and this midterm election is more important now than ever before”.

“Voters will make their voices heard, we will fight back with everything we have, and Republicans will have to answer for their party’s relentless attacks on Americans’ rights,” the committee said in a statement.

Republicans have called for an investigation into the unprecedented leak of a draft supreme court ruling.

More stories like this are available on bloomberg.com



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