Joe Biden to ask Congress to codify Roe v. Wade abortion protections

Congress should codify Roe once and for all, says Joe Biden

President Joe Biden said Tuesday he will push the next U.S. Congress to codify the abortion rights protections outlined in Roe v. Wade if Democrats keep control of the legislature.

Biden made the promise during a speech hosted by the Democratic National Committee on Tuesday afternoon in Washington, DC.

“Your right to choose rests with you,” Biden said. “If you do your part and vote, Democratic leaders of Congress, I promise you, we’ll do our part. I’ll do my part. And with your support, I’ll sign a law codifying Roe in January.”

The president vowed if more Democratic senators are elected and his party keeps the House in the upcoming midterm elections, the first legislation he will send would enshrine abortion rights protections. Biden aims to sign the bill into law close to the 50th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision, which is Jan. 22 of next year.

U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks on abortion rights in a speech hosted by the Democratic National Committee (DNC) at the Howard Theatre in Washington, October 18, 2022.

Leah Millis | Reuters

Abortion has become a critical issue for voters after the Supreme Court’s Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision overturned the protections of Roe earlier this year, sending the issue back to the states. Since then, more than a dozen Republican-led states — most of which do not allow for exceptions for rape or incest — have effectively banned abortions.

Biden’s announcement comes exactly three weeks from Election Day, when voters will decide which party controls both chambers of Congress. Republicans are favored to win the House, an outcome that would make it all but impossible to pass a bill to codify abortion rights.

Democrats, who control both chambers of Congress, tried to approve legislation to enshrine Roe into law this year. Republicans denied Democrats — who hold 50 seats in the Senate — the 60 votes needed to overcome a filibuster in the chamber.

Many prominent Democrats have called to circumvent the filibuster to protect abortion rights with a simple majority vote, but at least two members of the party — Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona — have said they oppose the move. Biden earlier this year promised to codify the Roe decision if two more Democrats got elected to the Senate.

The Supreme Court ruling sent the issue of abortion back to the state level, but some Republicans are looking to further restrict access nationally. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., proposed a national abortion ban that would include the penalty of jail time for doctors who perform them.

“If Republicans get their way with the national ban, it won’t matter where you live in America,” Biden said. “So let me be very clear, if such a bill were to pass in the next several years, I’ll veto it.”

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