President Joe Biden pledged to defend a so-called right to abortion and reaffirmed his commitment to the widespread availability of the procedure in a Jan. 22 statement marking the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision that legalized abortion nationwide.
“The constitutional right established in Roe v. Wade nearly 50 years ago today is under assault as never before,” reads the statement, which was co-signed by Vice President Kamala Harris. “It is a right we believe should be codified into law, and we pledge to defend it with every tool we possess.”
“We are deeply committed to protecting access to health care, including reproductive health care—and to ensuring that this country is not pushed backwards on women’s equality,” the statement continues.
The statement was released one day after tens of thousands of pro-life advocates gathered in Washington for the annual March for Life.
Biden and Harris condemned efforts by pro-life lawmakers to enact restrictions on abortion, saying that “in Texas, Mississippi, and many other states around the country, access to reproductive health care is under attack.”
“These state restrictions constrain the freedom of all women,” they wrote, adding that such restrictions are “particularly devastating for those who have fewer options and fewer resources, such as those in underserved communities, including communities of color and many in rural areas.”
In addition to support of codifying a right to an abortion throughout the entirety of a pregnancy, Biden and Harris wrote that they will “continue to work with Congress on the Women’s Health Protection Act.”
The Women’s Health Protection Act would establish “a statutory right for health care professionals to provide abortion and the right for their patients to receive care, free from medically unnecessary restrictions that single out abortion care.”
If passed, the bill would also eliminate requirements including mandatory waiting periods and ultrasounds before the procedure can be performed.
Biden and Harris wrote that it is important to “ensure that our daughters and granddaughters have the same fundamental rights that their mothers and grandmothers fought for and won on this day, 49 years ago.”
“At this pivotal moment, we recommit to strengthening access to critical reproductive health care, defending the constitutional right established by Roe, and protecting the freedom of all people to build their own future,” the statement reads.
Biden is the second Catholic president and the first to be elected since Roe v. Wade. In an interview with The Washingtonian when Roe was issued, Biden said he was more moderate on many social issues, including abortion.
“But when it comes to issues like abortion, amnesty, and acid, I’m about as liberal as your grandmother,” Biden said at the time. “I don’t like the Supreme Court decision on abortion. I think it went too far. I don’t think that a woman has the sole right to say what should happen to her body.”
While in the Senate, Biden repeatedly voted for legislation that would prevent the taxpayer funding of abortion. However, his views on abortion began to shift over time.
By his last year in the Senate prior to becoming vice president, Biden received a zero rating by the National Right to Life Committee. The last time Biden received a score above zero from the pro-life committee was in 2003-2004.
“There’s no surprise here,” said Mercedes Schlapp, former strategic communications director for the Trump administration, in a Jan. 21 interview with EWTN’s Owen Jensen. “We knew he was going to be radical on abortion. We knew he was going to support abortion— late term abortions. We know he’s obsessed and [the Democratic] party is obsessed with codifying Roe v. Wade.”
“As Catholics, we need to be vocal,” she continued. “We need to stand strong and we need to tell the president this is not right. We need to defend the unborn.”
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