Biden condemns ‘sad day’ as Roe v Wade overturned by ‘extreme’ Supreme Court

‘Make no mistake, this decision is the culmination of a deliberate effort over decades, to upset the balance of our law’

Biden says Roe v Wade decision 'a sad day for the country'
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President Joe Biden has condemned the “extreme ideology” of the Supreme Court after it overturned 50 years of legal precedent by striking down Roe v Wade on Friday.

“It’s a sad day for the court and for the country,” the president said,

Mr Biden addressed the nation just after 12.30pm from the presidential podium after the nation’s highest court issued its ruling wiping out the constitutional right to abortion access for millions of Americans.

“They didn’t limit it, they simply took it away,” Mr Biden said.

“That’s never been done to a right so important to so many Americans. But they did.”

Mr Biden said Roe v Wade had given women the right to make “intensely personal decisions with their doctor, free from the influence of politics”.

“It reaffirmed basic principles of love, that women have the power to control their own destiny. And it reinforced a fundamental right of privacy, a right of each of us to choose how to live our lives.”

On Friday morning, the US Supreme Court issued its long-awaited ruling in the case of Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization, with the justices ruling 6-3 to strike down the constitutional right to an abortion codified under the 1973 ruling Roe v Wade and further strengthened in the 1992 ruling Planned Parenthood v Casey.

The Supreme Court decision has sent the powers over abortion rights back to individual states, where many Republican-led states had already put ‘trigger laws’ in place to ban or severely restrict abortions in the eventuality that Roe was overturned.

“With Roe gone, the health and life of women in this nation are now at risk,” Mr Biden said.

As a former chairman of the SenateJudiciary Committee, Mr Biden said he had studied Roe v Wade carefully and believed it to be the correct decision under constitutional law, while also having a “broad national consensus”.

“It was a decision on a complex matter, and drew a careful balance between a woman’s right to choose early in her pregnancy, and the state’s ability to regulate later in the pregnancy.”

Mr Biden said Supreme Court justices nominated by successive Republican presidents, from Dwight D Eisenhower to George W Bush, had voted to uphold the precedent.

“It was three justices named by one president, Donald Trump, who were at the core of today’s decision to upend the scales of justice and eliminate a fundamental right for women in this country.

“Make no mistake, this decision is the culmination of a deliberate effort over decades, to upset the balance of our law.

“It’s a realisation of an extreme ideology in a tragic era by the Supreme Court in my view.”

He said the decision “will have real and immediate consequences”.

“State laws banning abortion are automatically taking effect today, jeopardising the health of millions of women, some without exceptions.”

Women and girls could be “forced to bear their rapist’s child”, the president continued.

“It just stuns me,” a despondent Mr Biden said.

“So extreme that doctors will be criminalised for fulfilling their duty to care. Imagine a young women having to carry a child as a consequence of incest with no option.... it’s cruel.”

The conservative justices laid out legal rulings dating back to the 1800s to rationalise its decision, Mr Biden said.

“The court is literally taking America back 150 years.”

Mr Biden said the only way to protect women’s rights is for Congress to restore the protections of Roe v Wade as federal law.

“No executive action from a president can do that,” he said.

“If Congress, as it appears, lacks the votes to do that now, voters need to make their voices’ heard,” he said.

“This fall, Roe is on the ballot.”

Pro-abortion demonstrators outside the Supreme Court on Friday

In his majority opinion, Justice Samuel Alito wrote that Roe – as well as the 1992 ruling on Planned Parenthood v Casey that further cemented abortion as a constitutional right – was “egregiously wrong” and “must be overruled”.

“Roe was egregiously wrong from the start,” he wrote.

“Its reasoning was exceptionally weak, and the decision has had damaging consequences.

“And far from bringing about a national settlement of the abortion issue, Roe and Casey have enflamed debate and deepened division.”

In their dissent, liberal Justices Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan blasted the decision.

“With sorrow – for this Court, but more, for the many millions of American women who have today lost a fundamental constitutional protection – we dissent,” they wrote.

“It is truly sad.”

The final ruling comes over a month after a draft majority opinion was leaked back on 2 May, revealing the court’s intentions to overturn abortion rights.

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