Biden voted to overturn Roe v Wade in 1982 saying women don’t have ‘sole right’ to say what happens to bodies

President had said in 1974 that he thought the Roe v Wade ruling ‘went too far’

Arpan Rai
Thursday 05 May 2022 14:04
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In the nascent days of his political career, Joe Biden had disapproved of the Roe v Wade ruling by the US Supreme Court and said women did not have “the sole right to say what should happen” to their bodies.

Mr Biden, who had become a senator in 1973, had made the remarks a year later.

“I don’t like the Supreme Court decision on abortion. I think it went too far,” he had told the Washingtonian magazine in 1974.

“I don’t think that a woman has the sole right to say what should happen to her body,” Mr Biden had said as the youngest senator in his early 30s back then, adding that he was “really quite conservative on most other issues”.

He had also been singled out as one of the only two Democrat lawmakers supporting a constitutional amendment that would allow states to overturn Roe v Wade and pass their own laws over abortion, as per The New York Times archives from 1982.

The amendment had been dubbed “the most devastating attack yet on abortion rights” by the National Abortion Rights Action league.

The current ruling that is expected to be given by the US Supreme Court is likely to do the same.

Pointing to his Roman Catholic upbringing and roots, Mr Biden had said he was “probably a victim, or a product, however you want to phrase it, of my background”.

He had also expressed his apprehension over “a right to impose” over an issue that concerned the nation.

Mr Biden had changed his views a year later and, in a sharp contrast from his previous take, the president on Tuesday said he was concerned “a great deal that we’re gonna after 50 years decide a woman does not have a right to choose”.

Calling it a critical caveat, Mr Biden on Wednesday said: “First, my administration argued strongly before the Court in defense of Roe v Wade. We said that Roe is based on a long line of precedent recognising the Fourteenth Amendment’s concept of personal liberty… against government interference with intensely personal decisions.”

“I believe that a woman’s right to choose is fundamental, Roe has been the law of the land for almost 50 years, and basic fairness and the stability of our law demand that it not be overturned,” the president said.

Roe v Wade is also one of the pillars of Mr Biden’s presidential tenure as he had vowed to codify the landmark ruling on reproductive rights as law.

“Roe v Wade is the law of the land, and we must fight any and all attempts to overturn it. As president, I will codify Roe into law and ensure this choice remains between a woman and her doctor,” Mr Biden had said in a 2019 tweet.

The tweet has been shared widely after a draft Supreme Court ruling on the matter leaked signalling the court may overturn the ruling.

Several social media users have criticised Democrats for not acting sooner on codifying Roe v Wade into law.

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