“Roe Is on the Ballot,” Biden Says

President decries Supreme Court’s reversal of abortion rights and urges voters to act.

President Joe Biden addresses the nation Friday after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. Andrew Harnik/AP

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On Friday Morning, the Supreme Court dropped the bomb we all knew was coming, voting 6-3 to overturn the 49-year-old precedent that afforded Americans the right to a safe and legal abortion.

“The Constitution does not confer a right to abortion; Roe and Casey are overruled; and the authority to regulate abortion is returned to the people and their elected representatives,” the Republican-appointed conservatives wrote in their majority opinion. Chief Justice John Roberts, a fellow conservative, voted against overturning Roe v. Wade outright, but voted with the others to uphold the restrictive Mississippi law that brought the issue before the court.

President Joe Biden can’t do anything much about that, and during a White House address on Friday afternoon, he admitted as much. “The only way we can secure a woman’s right to choose, is for Congress to restore the protections of Roe v. Wade as federal law,” Biden said. “No executive action from the president can do that.”

The current Senate, with 50 Democrats but 60 votes needed to pass most legislation thanks to the filibuster, can’t do it either, Biden acknowledged. Which is why, from the podium, he punted the problem to you. Yes, you.

“We need to restore the protections of Roe as law of the land and we need to elect officials who will do that,” he said. “This fall, Roe is on the ballot,” the president added, referring to the upcoming midterms. “Personal freedoms are on the ballot.”

At risk in the midterms is more than just the right to obtain a legal abortion. Justice Clarence Thomas’ concurring opinion offers several additional examples. An appointee of President George H.W. Bush, Thomas wrote that the court “should reconsider all of this Court’s substantive due process precedents, including GriswoldLawrence, and Obergefell”—past Supreme Court rulings that legalized birth control, same-sex intercourse, and same-sex marriage, respectively.

“This is an extreme and dangerous path the court is now taking us on,” Biden said, in reference to the Thomas opinion. 

During his solemn speech, Biden said he would do everything in its power to support abortion care. It’s not a whole lot: He said his administration will defend the right of women to travel from states that outlaw abortion to states where it is allowed, and will direct the Department of Health and Human Services to ensure that certain medications—specifically, contraceptives and medications to treat miscarriages—remain available and accessible. 

In his 13-minute address, after which he took no questions, Biden repeatedly referenced how well-accepted Roe was. The 7-2 ruling was authored by a justice appointed by President Richard Nixon, he noted, and has been “upheld by justices appointed by Democrat and Republican presidents alike.”

But none of that matters now. Only your votes do. “The court has done what it has never done before: Expressly taken away a constitutional right that is so fundamental to so many Americans that it had already been recognized,” Biden said.

“With your vote, you can act,” he emphasized. “You can have the final word. This is not over.”

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We have an ambitious $350,000 online fundraising goal this month and it's truly crunch time: About 15 percent of our yearly online giving usually comes in during the final week of the year, and in "No Cute Headlines or Manipulative BS," we explain why we simply can't afford to come up short right now.

The bottom line: Corporations and powerful people with deep pockets will never sustain the type of journalism Mother Jones exists to do. And advertising or profit-driven ownership groups will never make time-intensive, in-depth reporting viable.

That's why donations big and small make up 74 percent of our budget this year. There is no backup to keep us going, no alternate revenue source, no secret benefactor. If readers don’t donate, we won’t be here. It's that simple.

And if you can help us out with a donation right now, all online gifts will be matched thanks to an incredibly generous matching gift pledge.

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