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What has Biden said about the Supreme Court draft decision on abortion?

Justice Samuel Alito’s leaked opinion has raised the issue of reproductive rights, and President Biden has called for Roe v Wade to be enshrined in law.

Biden calls on Congress to pass abortion rights legislation

President Biden has called on Congress to pass legislation that would enshrine Roe v Wade in law to secure abortion rights in the United States, but suggested that he was unwilling to push for an end to the filibuster.

In a statement released on Tuesday, Biden said: “I believe that a woman’s right to choose is fundamental, Roe has been the law of the land for almost fifty years, and basic fairness and the stability of our law demand that it not be overturned.”

He reiterated his belief that the precedent of Roe v Wade must be upheld and promised “an Administration response to the continued attack on abortion and reproductive rights,” adding, “we will be ready when any ruling is issued.”

Biden stops short of removing the filibuster

While Biden’s public statements on abortion rights have been strong, he appears unwilling to utilise every tool at his disposal to secure them. The Senate filibuster rule essentially requires legislation to receive a 60-vote supermajority to evade the possibility an opposing member blocking the proposal.

If Biden were to remove, or push for the Senate to remove, the filibuster rule then the requirement would drop to 50 votes, much more achievable in the evenly split chamber. However when asked about the prospect on Tuesday, Biden told reporters that he was “not prepared to make those judgments now,” signalling that he would not look to override the filibuster.

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Speaking to reporters at Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, Biden said: “The idea that we’re going to make a judgment, that no one can make the judgment to choose to abort a child based on a decision by the Supreme Court, I think, goes way overboard.”

Schumer will hold a Senate vote on abortion rights law

Currently the only real protection for abortion rights in the United States comes from the precedent set down by Roe v Wade. Congress has never passed any meaningful legislation on the matter, and it appears very unlikely that this Congress would pass such a law.

However Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer has confirmed that he will hold a vote on the prospect of codifying the right to abortion in federal law.

“A vote on this legislation is not an abstract exercise, this is as urgent and real as it gets,” Schumer said in a floor speech. “We will vote to protect a woman’s right to choose and every American is going to see which side every senator stands.”

The Democrats would not be able to reach the 60-vote mark required to pass the law, but it would require each member to put their stance on abortion rights on record. Ahead of the November midterms, abortion rights could be a key feature of campaigning as the Democrats look to cling onto their unified control of Congress.