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Biden says restoring abortion rights is up to voters

Hundreds gathered outside the Supreme Court Friday as the Supreme Court's decision overturning Roe v Wade was announced. (Video: Jorge Ribas, Hadley Green, Erin Patrick O'Connor/The Washington Post, Photo: Matt McClain/The Washington Post)
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President Biden on Friday called the Supreme Court decision that overturns of Roe v. Wade a “tragic error” and implored voters to turn out in November to elect members of Congress willing to write abortion protections into law. Speaking from the White House, Biden said, “This is a sad day for the country in my view, but it doesn’t mean the fight is over.”

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Biden said the decision puts reproductive health at risk and singled out Justice Clarence Thomas’s concurring opinion, in which he opened the door to the court revisiting decisions on contraception and same-sex marriage. Biden’s comments came hours after the court overturned the fundamental right to abortion established nearly 50 years ago, a stunning reversal that leaves states free to drastically reduce access to or even outlaw abortion.

Roe was egregiously wrong from the start. 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,” Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. wrote.

The vote was 6 to 3 to uphold a restrictive Mississippi law. Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., though, criticized his conservative colleagues for taking the additional step of overturning Roe and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which had reaffirmed the right to abortion.

Here’s what to know

  • The decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health was the most anticipated of the court’s term, with political tension surrounding the fight over abortion rights erupting in May with the leak of a draft opinion indicating a majority of justices intended to end the long-standing precedent.
  • The justices were considering a Mississippi law that would ban almost all abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. The law had not taken effect because lower courts said it was at odds with the national right to abortion established in Roe v. Wade in 1973 and affirmed by subsequent Supreme Court rulings.
  • In their joint dissent, the court’s three liberal justices took note of the states that will move quickly to restrict abortion access and emphasized the sweeping impact of the court’s decision on the rights of women to terminate their pregnancies.
  • Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), who helped shepherd several conservative justices onto the court, celebrated the Supreme Court ruing as “courageous and correct” and said the American people have gotten “their voice back” on the issue.
  • House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) warned that her Republican colleagues in Congress are now “plotting a nationwide abortion ban” and that more extreme measures could be enacted in the states.
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