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"This is not over," Biden says after Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade

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Special Report: Biden says he will "do all in my power" to protect abortion rights 17:39

President Biden declared it a "very solemn moment" Friday, hours after the Supreme Court issued a landmark ruling overturning Roe v. Wade, as his administration determines how to move forward now that the Supreme Court has decided there is no constitutional right to an abortion. 

"Today, the Supreme Court of the United States expressly took away a constitutional right from the American people that it had already recognized," Mr. Biden said. "They didn't limit it. They simply took away."

Mr. Biden took a somber tone in his remarks, and urged Americans to vote, saying, "this decision must not be the final word."

"This is not over," he added. 

The president argued that Roe has long been a widely approved precedent, across the country . 

"It was three justices named by one president, Donald Trump, who were the core of today's decision to upend the scales of justice and eliminate a fundamental right for women in this country. Make no mistake — this decision is a culmination of a deliberate effort over decades to upset the balance of our law. It's a realization of an extreme ideology and a tragic error by the Supreme Court, in my view." 

The Supreme Court on Friday overturned the decision in Roe v. Wade that established the right to an abortion, a move that now gives states the authority to impose their own restrictions on abortion. Thirteen states have so-called "trigger laws" on the books, in which abortion will swiftly be outlawed in most cases given that Roe is now overturned. 

Mr. Biden had already expressed his disapproval of overturning Roe when a draft of the opinion leaked in May.

"It concerns me a great deal that, after 50 years, we're going to decide that a woman doesn't have the right to choose," the president said at the time. "But even more equally profound is the rationale used — and it would mean that every other decision relating to the notion of privacy is thrown into question."

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President Joe Biden speaks about the newly approved COVID-19 vaccines for children under 5, Tuesday, June 21, 2022, from the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington. Susan Walsh / AP

Mr. Biden said he cannot unilaterally keep the protections under Roe — only Congress can. And Congress, he said, doesn't appear to have the votes to do that now. 

"This fall, Roe is on the ballot," Mr. Biden said. "Personal freedoms are on the ballot. The right to privacy, liberty, equality, they're all on the ballot. Until then, I will do all in my power to protect a woman's right in states where they will face the consequences of today's decision." 

The president said he will ensure that Americans who wish to travel to another state for an abortion can do so, and will protect women's access to medications approved by the Food and Drug Administration, like contraception. He also expressed grave concerns about what losing Roe means to the right to privacy.

"My administration will remain vigilant as the implications of this decision play out," Mr. Biden said. "I've warned about how this decision risks the broader right to privacy for everyone. That's because Roe recognized the fundamental right to privacy that has served as the basis for so many more rights that — we've come to take for granted that are engrained in the fabric of this country — the right to make the best decisions for your health, the right to use birth control, the right to privacy of a couple in their bedroom, for God's sake, the right to marry the person you love. Justice Thomas said as much today, he explicitly called to reconsider the right of marriage equality, the right of couples to make their choices on contraception. This is an extreme and dangerous path that the court is now taking us on." 

Mr. Biden also said his administration will protect women's access to medications such as contraception and Mifepristone, which was approved by the FDA nearly 20 years ago that can end early pregnancies or treat miscarriages. 

"Some states are saying that they'll try to ban or severely restrict access to these medications," Mr. Biden said. "Today I'm directing the Department of Health and Human Services to take steps to ensure these critical medications are available to the fullest extent possible." 

Vice President Kamala Harris called the decision to overturn Roe a "health care crisis."

"For nearly 50 years, we have talked about what Roe v. Wade protects," she said in a speech. "Today, as of right now, as of this minute, we can only talk about what Roe v. Wade protected. Past tense. This is a health care crisis, because understand, millions of women in America will go to bed tonight without access to the health care and reproductive care that they had this morning. Without access to the same health care or reproductive health care that their mothers and grandmothers had for 50 years." 

The overturning of Roe is one of the most consequential results of former President Trump's election to office, as well as one of the most significant moments during Mr. Biden's presidency. 

Other top Democrats immediately lamented the court's decision Friday. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the rights of women and all Americans "are on the ballot this November," and warned what could happen if Republicans take control of Congress, and called the decision a slap in the face to women. 

Former President Barack Obama said Friday that the Supreme Court "relegated the most intensely personal decision someone can make to the whims of politicians and ideologues." 

Senator Joe Manchin, a moderate Democrat, called for Congress to codify the rights previously provided under Roe. 

"As a Catholic, I was raised pro-life and will always consider myself pro-life," Manchin said. "But I have come to accept that my definition of pro-life may not be someone else's definition of pro-life. I believe that exceptions should be made in instances of rape, incest and when the life of the mother is in jeopardy. But let me be clear, I support legislation that would codify the rights Roe v. Wade previously protected. I am hopeful Democrats and Republicans will come together to put forward a piece of legislation that would do just that."

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