Biden was asked about his reaction to the Supreme Court case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the most significant challenge to abortion rights in the US in 30 years
President Joe Biden reaffirmed his support for Roe v. Wade on Wednesday, claiming his was the ‘rational’ position as the conservative-leaning Supreme Court is poised to limit abortion rights in the United States.
Biden, a devout Catholic and only the second ever elected to the White House, is not quiet about his stance on abortion. He previously condemned a Texas law restricting the procedure after six weeks as ‘un-American.’
His progressive position puts him at odds with the teachings of the Catholic Church, which believes life starts at conception. Some within the church have called for him to stop receiving communion over the stance, though after a lengthy meeting with Pope Francis in October Biden said the Catholic leader told him it should continue.
The 79-year-old president said during a press conference that he didn’t listen to the court’s oral arguments in today’s Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case but supported a woman’s Constitutional right to an abortion as granted by the landmark 1973 Roe case.
‘I didn’t see any of the debate today,’ Biden said when asked for his reaction.
‘I support Roe v. Wade, I think it’s the rational position to take, and I continue to support it.’
The six conservative Supreme Court justices on Wednesday seemed poised to uphold Mississippi’s ban on abortions after 15 weeks in the Dobbs case, a decision that could overhaul Roe v. Wade after the most significant debate on a woman’s right to choose in 30 years.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki shared a more detailed opinion on her boss’s behalf at her daily press briefing.
She was asked about the two-hour arguments and said Biden’s ‘busy schedule’ prevented him from keeping an eye on the developments but remained adamant about keeping abortion legal and accessible.
‘Of course, he will be updated and briefed by his team on those arguments,’ Psaki said.
Biden has been condemned by some Catholic leaders at home for his stance but was told he was a ‘good Catholic’ during a lengthy private meeting with Pope Francis in October
The court’s six conservative-leaning justices and three liberal-leaning justices will decide the fate of Roe v. Wade
She said Biden believes the Mississippi law is unconstitutional and is urging Congress to act on legislation explicitly codifying abortion into law.
Biden ‘believes the Mississippi law blatantly violates women’s constitutional rights to safe and legal abortions,’ Psaki said.
‘This case presents a grave threat to women’s fundamental rights, to all of our rights as protected under Roe v. Wade for half a century.
‘As he’s mentioned before, he’s committed to working with Congress to codify the constitutional right to safe and legal abortion.’
Biden’s departure from traditional Catholic tenets prompted the US Conference of Catholic Bishops to issue a document earlier this year advising priests on how to proceed when pro-choice politicians attend their services.
More recently he met with Pope Francis for an unprecedently long private chat, and said afterwards that the religious leader called him a ‘good Catholic.’
The three liberal justices on the court claimed today that overturning the landmark 1974 ruling was driven by political and religious motivations, suggested sticking with precedent and compared the physical reactions of unborn babies to brain-dead people.
But Chief Justice Roberts questioned why 15 weeks is ‘not enough time’ for a woman to choose, Brett Kavanaugh hinted that abortion rights should be left up to the states and Amy Coney Barrett brought up alternatives to termination including adoption.
The justices will now debate the case – Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization – and release their final opinion in the coming weeks in a decision that will have vast ramifications across the country.
Thirty-three people were arrested as a swarm of pro-life and pro-choice protesters gathered outside the court on Wednesday while oral arguments kicked unfolded inside.
Mississippi Solicitor General Scott Stewart opened by telling the court that the landmark 1972 case Roe v. Wade and 1992’s Planned Parenthood v. Casey ‘poison the law’ and that Mississippi is looking to unequivocally overturn them.
Meanwhile the liberal justices on the court attempted to claim overturning Roe would undermine public confidence in the government and the apolitical high court.
Roberts also briefly clashed with liberal Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who tore into Mississippi’s opening arguments and accused the state of bringing the case forward not because of its legal basis but because of who was on the bench.
Clarence Thomas breaks his silence early
Soon after Mississippi’s lawyer began opening arguments, Thomas asked ‘Does it make a difference if we focus on privacy and autonomy versus if we focus on abortion?’
Thomas is usually known for remaining silent during oral arguments but signaled the uniqueness of today’s case by asking the first question during Stewart’s defense of the Mississippi law.
‘Does it make a difference if we focus on privacy and autonomy versus if we focus on abortion?’ he asked after noting that abortion cases focus on the former two rather than the procedure itself.
It’s a line of questioning he used on both pro-choice lawyers as well..
Thomas also said the right to an abortion was not spelled out in the Constitution the way the right to bear arms is written in the Second Amendment.
He asked Julie Rikelman, the lawyer representing the Mississippi abortion clinic at the center of the case, where the Constitution granted abortion rights. He also asked her whether the court was to look at privacy and autonomy or abortion itself.
Rikelman told him the issue of ‘liberty’ is at stake: ‘It’s the textual protection in the 14th Amendment that the state can’t deny someone liberty without the due process of law.’
‘So all of the above,’ he replied.
John Roberts hints at a compromise
The chief justice appeared more hesitant than his other conservative colleagues to overturn Roe v. Wade altogether.
Mississippi originally went to court to keep its 15-week abortion ban in place but filed a brief in July asking the Supreme Court to get rid of Roe v. Wade and its viability line for an abortion altogether.
Roberts commented on Mississippi’s expanded attack strategy on the procedure, and claimed that Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey’s central focus was not on viability.
However Roberts signaled that he may be open to scrapping the more than 20-week window established in the previous decisions, telling Rikelman that the shorter window ‘is not a dramatic departure from viability.’
In what could be a blow to pro-choice activists, Roberts asked her if the issue at hand was one of freedom to choose or establishing a viability timeline – questioning ‘If it really is an issue about choice, why is 15 weeks not enough time?’
At one point he suggested that other developed countries have viability cutoffs, bizarrely holding up China and North Korea as examples.
Rikelman corrected him by saying countries like Canada and the United Kingdom allow abortions past the point of fetal viability.
What could happen if the Supreme Court sides with Mississippi’s 15-week ban on abortions
The state is fighting to keep its ban on abortions after 15 weeks in place, and in a separate filing asked the high court to overturn Roe v. Wade altogether.
Twelve states have already enacted ‘trigger laws,’ where if Roe is overturned, abortion in the state would be made illegal immediately without action from the legislature.
Twenty-six states are likely to ban or restrict abortion quickly if such power is returned to the states.
Ohio, Georgia, Louisiana, Missouri, Alabama, Kentucky, South Carolina, and Texas have all passed heartbeat bills, but none except Texas’ have gone into effect due to court intervention.
The JWHO has said that since a law in Texas banning abortions after six weeks took effect Sept. 1, one-fourth of its patients come from the Lone Star State.
If the justices move to uphold the 15-week ban but not overturn Roe, the right to an abortion would likely remain in place but with a drastically shortened legal window.
Current precedent established by Roe allows abortions up until the point of fetal viability outside the womb, about 24 weeks.
Mississippi’s law would shave off roughly two months and also signal a green light that states like Texas that want shorter timelines could have a case
The law also does not make exceptions for rape or incest – which if approved by the Supreme Court could be a feature of anti-abortion laws throughout the country.
Adding Justice Amy Coney Barrett to the bench has strengthened the court’s 6-3 conservative majority and given hope to pro-life lawmakers and activists that the nation could again see a day where states are able to fully outlaw abortion.
Twelve states have already enacted ‘trigger laws,’ where if Roe is overturned, abortion in the state would be made illegal immediately without action from the legislature. Twenty-six states are likely to ban abortion quickly if such power is returned to the states.
Ohio, Georgia, Louisiana, Missouri, Alabama, Kentucky, South Carolina, and Texas have all passed heartbeat bills, but none except Texas’ have gone into effect due to court intervention.
The JWHO has said that since the Texas law took effect Sept. 1, one-fourth of its patients come from the Lonestar State.
Meanwhile, New Hampshire Democrat Jeanne Shaheen has warned of a ‘revolution if the court overturns Roe.
‘I hope the Supreme Court is listening to the people of the United States because – to go back to Adam Sexton’s question – I think if you want to see a revolution go ahead, outlaw Roe v. Wade and see what the response is of the public, particularly young people,’ Shaheen said during a virtual event Monday featuring New Hampshire’s entire House and Senate delegation. ‘Because I think that will not be acceptable to young women or young men.’
Courtroom sketches show the lawyer defending Jackson Women’s Health Organization, Julie Rikelman (standing, top image) and Mississippi Solicitor General Scott Stewart (standing, bottom image) making their cases
Brett Kavanaugh indicates court should remain ‘neutral’ on abortion
Kavanaugh began by asking Stewart what role he thought written US law played in abortion access.
‘As I understand it, you’re arguing that the Constitution’s silent and therefore neutral on the question of abortion. In other words, that the Constitution’s neither pro-life nor pro-choice?’ Kavanaugh asked.
Stewart answered, ‘Right, we’re saying it should be left to the people.’
Kavanaugh wondered if the court should be neutral on abortion rights, which would require overturning Roe. If Mississippi wins the case, Kavanaugh added, such a ruling would not prohibit abortion nationwide but would let states regulate it as they see fit.
He appeared to indicate his leaning by summing up the state’s case, ‘They say the Constitution doesn’t give us the authority, we should leave it to the states and we should be scrupulously neutral.’
Justice Neil Gorsuch, a fellow Trump appointee, also seemed to suggest he’d lean toward leaving the question of abortion up to states.
At one point Kavanaugh asked US Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar what the pitfalls would be of leaving abortion up to the states, noting that people living on the East Coast and those in the Midwest live under different circumstances.
The solicitor general argued that low-income women in states that did outlaw abortion could be forced to choose between travel they may not be able to afford or seeking an abortion under illegal means that could put her life at risk.
Prelogar argued that the 24-week viability line was established as a compromise to protect both the rights of women and unborn fetuses.
Roe v. Wade: The landmark 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in America
In 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court recognized a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion in Roe v. Wade. The landmark ruling legalized abortion nationwide but divided public opinion and has been under attack ever since.
The case was filed in 1971 by Norma McCorvey, a 22-year-old living in Texas who was unmarried and seeking a termination of her unwanted pregnancy.
Because of state legislation preventing abortions unless the mother’s life is at risk, she was unable to undergo the procedure in a safe and legal environment.
So McCorvey sued Henry Wade, the Dallas county district attorney, in 1970. The case went on to the Supreme Court, under the filing Roe vs Wade, to protect McCorvey’s privacy.
Supreme Court Decision
The Supreme Court handed down the watershed 7-2 decision that a woman’s right to make her own medical decisions, including the choice to have an abortion, is protected under the 14th Amendment.
In particular, that the Due Process Clause of the the 14th Amendment provides a fundamental ‘right to privacy’ that protects a woman’s liberty to choose whether or not to have an abortion.
…nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law
The landmark ruling saw abortions decriminalized in 46 states, but under certain specific conditions which individual states could decide on. For example, states could decide whether abortions were allowed only during the first and second trimester but not the third (typically beyond 28 weeks).
Among pro-choice campaigners, the decision was hailed as a victory which would mean fewer women would become seriously – or even fatally – ill from abortions carried out by unqualified or unlicensed practitioners. Moreover, the freedom of choice was considered a significant step in the equality fight for women in the country. Victims of rape or incest would be able to have the pregnancy terminated and not feel coerced into motherhood.
However, pro-lifers contended it was tantamount to murder and that every life, no matter how it was conceived, is precious. Though the decision has never been overturned, anti-abortionists have prompted hundreds of states laws since then narrowing the scope of the ruling.
One such was the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act signed by President George W. Bush in 2003, which banned a procedure used to perform second-trimester abortions.
McCorvey lived a quiet life until the 1980s when she revealed herself to be Jane Roe
Norma McCorvey (Jane Roe)
Following the ruling, McCorvey lived a quiet life until the 1980s when she revealed herself to be Jane Roe. McCorvey became a leading, outspoken pro-abortion voice in American discourse, even working at a women’s clinic where abortions were performed.
However, she performed an unlikely U-turn in 1995, becoming a born again Christian and began traveling the country speaking out against the procedure.
In 2003, a she filed a motion to overturn her original 1973 ruling with the U.S. district court in Dallas. The motion moved through the courts until it was ultimately denied by the Supreme Court in 2005.
McCorvey died at an assisted living home in Texas in February 2017, aged 69.
‘The Heartbeat bill’
Multiple governors have signed legislation outlawing abortion if a doctor can detect a so-called ‘fetal heartbeat,’ part of a concerted effort to restrict abortion rights in states across the country.
Under the ban doctors will be prosecuted for flouting the rules.
Abortion-rights supporters see the ‘heartbeat bills’ as virtual bans because ‘fetal heartbeats’ can be detected as early as six weeks, when women may not be aware they are pregnant.
Anti-abortion campaigners have intensified their efforts since Donald Trump was elected president and appointed two conservative justices to the US Supreme Court, hopeful they can convince the right-leaning court to re-examine Roe v. Wade.
Georgia, Ohio, Missouri, and Louisiana have enacted ‘heartbeat laws’ recently, and Alabama passed an even more restrictive version in May, amounting to a near total ban on abortion from the moment of conception. Other states have similar legislation pending.
Similar laws has also been passed in Arkansas, Mississippi, North Dakota, Iowa and Kentucky, though they have been blocked by courts from going into effect as legal challenges have been brought against them.
But when questioning her Kavanaugh seemed to doubt the balancing act was possible.
‘You can’t accommodate both interests. You have to pick. That’s the fundamental problem. And one interest has to prevail over the other at any given point in time. And that’s why this is so challenging,’ he said.
At another point during the arguments Kavanaugh listed off a number of cases, including Brown v. Board of Education, that overruled past precedents like Mississippi is attempting to do now.
Amy Coney Barrett leans into safe haven laws
The conservative Trump appointee raised multiple concerns about whether the issue of abortion rights or ‘parental rights’ were at stake.
The pro-choice attorneys argued that denying women the right to an abortion would put both their health and future lives in jeopardy.
But Barrett seized on the former, focusing on adoption and laws – that she pointed out existed in all 50 states – that allow women to surrender their children under specific conditions to become wards of the state.
Through her questioning she appeared to indicate that if a woman can easily put her child up for adoption then there may not be a need for Roe’s protections.
Prelogar argued that Roe enshrined a right for women to choose between ending a pregnancy and giving up parental rights.
Rikelman also clashed with Barrett, who repeated the line that a weeks-based viability line is arbitrary compared to other ways to measure a pregnancy such as trimesters.
The attorney countered that the viability line established by Roe is an objective line removed from religious or philosophical leanings.
Samuel Alito says fetuses have ‘an interest in having a life’
Alito was the most overtly critical of Roe v. Wade’s existence, using the issue of ‘arbitrary’ viability to question the moral responsibility a pregnant woman has to a fetus.
‘If a woman wants to be free of the burdens of pregnancy, that interest does not disappear the moment the viability line is crossed,’ he said.
Rikelman agreed, to which he responded: ‘The fetus has an interest in having a life, and that doesn’t change from the point before viability and after viability.’
He seemed to interpret the issue of viability as more of a philosophical than a legal line, directly contradicting the pro-choice lawyers.
‘There are those who say that the rights of personhood should be considered to have taken hold at a point when the fetus acquires certain independent characteristics,’ he said.
‘But viability is dependent on medical technology and medical practice. It has changed. It may continue to change.’
She countered that there was a line set ‘between conception and birth and it logically looked at the fetus’s ability to survive separately as a legal line.’
Alito also dismissed Roberts’ leaning toward a compromise, claiming that overruling Roe or keeping it are ‘the only real options we have.’
Liberals warn that court’s legitimacy could be in doubt if Roe is overturned
Justice Stephen Breyer declared the court would need an extremely compelling reason to revisit a ‘watershed’ case like Roe.
He and Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan repeatedly warned that overturning Roe v. Wade could put the Supreme Court’s legitimacy in doubt.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor accused Mississippi of bringing the case not because the state believed Roe was illegal but because of the court’s conservative supermajority.
‘Now, the sponsors of this bill, this house bill in Mississippi, are saying, “We’re doing this because we have new justices on the Supreme Court.” Will this institution survive the stench that this creates in the public perception that the constitution and its reading are just political acts?’ Sotomayor asked.
‘If people believe it’s all political, how will we survive? How will the court survive?’
Chief Justice John Roberts, who sided with liberal justices in an earlier similar ruling in Texas, jumped in during Sotomayor’s questioning to say that anything written in a court opinion that goes ‘beyond the facts’ are merely private views and ‘not binding in subsequent cases as legal precedent.’
During a tense moment Sotomayor asked him, ‘Can I finish my line of inquiry?’
Sotomayor went on to compare the supposed ‘pain’ reactions felt by a 15-week-old fetus to how brain-dead medical patients sometimes respond to stimuli.
‘There’s about 40 percent of dead people, who if you touch the foot, the foot will recoil,’ she said. ‘So I dont think a response to – by a fetus necessarily proves that there’s the sensation of pain or that there’s consciousness.’
She continued, ‘I go back to my question of, what has changed in science to show that the viability line is not a real line?’
The Barack Obama appointed-judge accused Mississippi of forcing ‘women who are poor’ into a ‘tremendously greater risk of medical complications and ending their life’ with the abortion law for a religious view rather than a medical one.
‘This is a religious view isn’t it – you are assuming a fetus is life – at when? When do you suggest we begin that life?’ Sotomayor asked.
She also took on her conservative colleagues’ argument that abortion isn’t explicitly in the Constitution, pointing out that ‘there’s so much that’s not in the Constitution.’
Kagan questioned whether upending Roe would leave a legal vacuum with abortion bans at six weeks, eight weeks and others falling before the court.
Pro-abortion rights activists were seen outside the court taking ‘abortion pills’ as a show of protest
Julie Rikelman, the attorney representing Jackson Women’s Health Organization – the last abortion clinic in Mississippi that’s at the center of the case – said the Casey ruling rejected ‘every possible reason’ for overturning Roe v. Wade.
Next up came top Biden administration lawyer Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar, who declared that ruling with Mississippi would send a message to women in America that their personal liberties were not protected.
‘The Court has never revoked a right that is so fundamental to so many Americans and so central to their ability to participate fully and equally in society. The Court should not overrule the central component of women’s liberty,’ she said.
Prelogar claimed that half of all the states would ‘swiftly’ move to limit or ban abortion.
Pro-abortion rights and pro-life activists began gathering outside the Supreme Court in the early morning hours. Some impassioned protesters brought props such as a small replica of a fetus while others brought white boxes labeled ‘abortion pills’ which they enthusiastically gulped down in front of cameras and fellow activists.
Police had already set up barriers as the crowds gathered, a sign of the high tensions expected over today’s case.
Some protesters brought unusual props such as a small model of a fetus
Alveda King, niece of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., was seen amid this morning’s demonstrations urging the Supreme Court to ‘heal our land of the epidemic of abortion.’
Senator Roger Wicker from Mississippi wrote on Twitter that his staff was handing out coffee to pro-life protesters in the chilly December weather.
Progressive lawmakers are also there to stand with pro-choice activists. Rep. Pramila Japayal of Washington, who previously revealed she had an abortion herself, addressed the crowd along with Rep. Barbara Lee of California and Rep. Diana DeGette of Colorado.
‘If you are here today, you are in the struggle for justice and I want to thank every single person that has stood up, that has spoken out and organized to fight against these dangerous attacks on choice,’ Japayal said to applause.
The law, Mississippi’s Gestational Age Act, was passed in 2018 and only allows abortions 15 weeks after conception in ‘medical emergencies’ and ‘severe fetal abnormality.’ It makes no exceptions for rape or incest.
On the other end of the suit is Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the only legal abortion clinic in the entire state.
A pro-abortion rights activist protests outside the Supreme Court building, ahead of arguments in the Mississippi abortion rights case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health, in Washington, U.S., December 1
The law has already been blocked by two federal courts, but pro-choice activists are watching nervously after the court gave a preview of how it could lean earlier this year in a similar case from Texas.
The pro-choice Guttmacher Institute estimated that 26 states ‘are certain or likely to ban abortion’ if Roe is overturned today in a recent report.
Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of anti-abortion group Susan B. Anthony List, is joining the crowds outside the Supreme Court today.
In an excerpt of her prepared remarks obtained by DailyMail.com, Dannenfelser will say: ‘Friends, life is truly the most important human rights cause of our time. From abolition to suffrage to the civil rights movement, principled women and men throughout history have always stepped up to lead at pivotal moments like this.
‘The pioneers of the women’s movement clearly understood the violent, oppressive nature of abortion, and they adamantly opposed it.’
Pro-abortion group NARAL Pro-Choice America called today’s case a ‘moment of crisis.’
‘The constitutional right to abortion faces a terrifying and unprecedented threat. This moment of crisis is the culmination of the anti-choice movement’s decades-long efforts to undermine the will of the overwhelming majority of people in this country who support the legal right to abortion,’ NARAL President Mini Timmaraju said in a statement.
‘Make no mistake: The future of reproductive freedom is in grave danger, and the time to take bold action to protect it is now.’
Pro-choice and pro-abortion rights activists mix outside the Supreme Court building today
Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), chair of the Progressive Caucus, speaks during a demonstration in front of the U.S. Supreme Court
A man takes a selfie with a somewhat worn crucifix outside the court amid the crowd
The case is the culmination of a decades-long battle between pro-life and pro-abortion groups
Pro-life protesters wearing doctor uniforms pray outside of the Supreme Court
Police officers erected barriers in anticipation of inflamed tensions during the case
Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves, a Republican, said late Tuesday that he was confident his state’s effort to squash Roe will prevail
Pro-abortion group NARAL Pro-Choice America called today’s case a ‘moment of crisis’
Pro-life activists are also calling on Congress to pass the Women’s Health Protection Act to enshrine abortion rights as law
The Jackson Women’s Health Organization. The JWHO, as the state’s only abortion clinic, is suing because it is directly affected by the law
The Supreme Court is set to take up its biggest abortion case in 30 years as it decides the fate of a Mississippi abortion law
One of Mississippi’s two senators, Republican Roger Wicker, tweeted this morning that his team was outside the court supporting pro-life protesters with hot coffee
Catholic Biden says Roe v. Wade is ‘rational’ position as Supreme Court poised to restrict abortion Source link Catholic Biden says Roe v. Wade is ‘rational’ position as Supreme Court poised to restrict abortion