US President Joe Biden condemns abortion decision as divisions escalate
Clinics have already begun to close in some US states after a Supreme Court ruling struck down the constitutional right to abortion.
About half of states are expected to introduce new restrictions or bans after the court overturned its 50-year-old Roe v Wade decision. Among them, 13 immediately banned abortion.
President Joe Biden described the decision as “a tragic mistake” and protests are underway in cities across the United States.
At an abortion clinic in Little Rock, Arkansas — a state with a so-called trigger law allowing for an instant ban — the doors to the patient area closed as soon as the court notice was issued in line and sobbing could be heard. The staff phoned to tell the women that their appointments were cancelled.
“No matter how prepared we are for bad news, when it finally comes it hits hard. Having to call these patients and tell them that Roe v Wade has been knocked down is heartbreaking,” nurse Ashli Hunt told the BBC.
President Biden who said it would dramatically change the lives of millions of women in America and is expected to exacerbate growing tensions in a deeply polarized country.
The court, in a 6-3 ruling by its conservative majority, upheld a Republican-backed Mississippi law that bans abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy. The vote was 5–4 to overthrow Roe, with conservative Chief Justice John Roberts writing separately to say he would have upheld the Mississippi law without taking the additional step of completely erasing the Roe precedent.
The repercussions of the decision will be felt far beyond the high-security confines of the court – potentially reshaping the battlefield in the November election over whether Biden’s fellow Democrats retain control of Congress and signaling a new opening of the judges to modify other long-standing rights.
Ramifications of the decision reached Aotearoa, with Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta tweeting that it was “draconian” and did not support women’s right to choose.
The quashing of Roe v. Wade by the United States Supreme Court is draconian and does not support a woman’s right to choice. How can this happen?
—Nanaia Mahuta (@NanaiaMahuta) June 24, 2022
However, the Vatican’s Academy for Life welcomed the move, saying it invited the world to reflect on life’s issues, but also called for social changes to help women keep their children.
The Vatican department also said in a statement that the defense of human life cannot be limited to individual rights because life is a matter of “broad social significance.”
Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, who heads the Pontifical Academy for Life, said the court’s ruling was a “powerful invitation to reflect” on the issue at a time when Western society is “losing the passion for life”.
“By choosing life, our responsibility for the future of humanity is at stake,” Paglia said.
5th ave NYC pic.twitter.com/hkKLasAR27
—Gabriel Elizondo (@elizondogabriel) June 24, 2022
Biden took the opposite view, telling a broadcast: “Today the Supreme Court of the United States expressly took away from the American people a constitutional right that they had already recognized.
“It’s a sad day for the country in my opinion. But that doesn’t mean the fight is over. Let me be very clear and unambiguous: the only way to guarantee a woman’s right to choose one balance that exists is for Congress to reinstate the protections of Roe v. Wade as federal law.
He urged voters to elect more senators and representatives who would cement a woman’s right to choose into federal law.
“I have warned of how this decision jeopardizes everyone’s broader right to privacy… The right to make the best decisions for your health.”
World Health Organization Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreysus also condemned the decision.
“I’m very disappointed, because women’s rights need to be protected. And I would have expected America to protect those rights,” he said.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said: “Sexual and reproductive health and rights are the foundation of a life of choice, empowerment and equality for women and girls around the world. Restricting access to abortion doesn’t stop people from seeking abortion, it only makes it more deadly.”
US House Speaker Nancy Pelsosi described it as outrageous and heartbreaking.
She said a “Republican-controlled Supreme Court” had achieved “this party’s dark and extreme goal of denying women the right to make their own reproductive health decisions.”
“But make no mistake: the rights of women and of all Americans are on the ballot in November.”
Planned Parenthood was also critical: “SCOTUS [the Supreme Court] We may have just ended our constitutional right to abortion, but know this: Abortion is health care, and you deserve to be in control of your body and your future, no matter what. That hasn’t changed. We cannot and we will not back down now.”
Former US President Barack Obama said the Supreme Court not only overturned nearly 50 years of precedent, “it relegated the most intensely personal decision anyone can make to the whims of politicians and ideologues – attacking the essential freedoms of millions of Americans”.
Other world leaders have joined in criticism of French President Emmanuel Macron, saying abortion is a fundamental right for all women.
“We must protect him. I would like to express my solidarity with all these women whose freedoms are today compromised by the Supreme Court of the United States.”
The Canadian prime minister said the decision was “horrible”.
“My heart goes out to the millions of American women who are now on the verge of losing their legal right to abortion…No government, politician or man should tell a woman what she can and cannot do. his body.”
And British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “I think it’s a big step back… I’ve always believed in a woman’s right to choose and I stand by that view and that’s is why the UK has the laws it makes.”
Decision hailed by Republicans
Prominent Republicans hailed former President Donald Trump’s decision, saying: ‘It follows the Constitution and returns rights when they should have been granted a long time ago… It brings everything back to the states it always belonged to. .”
Although Trump is no longer in office, the Roe v Wade overthrow will be heralded by many supporters as the cornerstone of his legacy.
While president, he appointed three Supreme Court justices to the bench, tipping the court’s ideological balance to a 6-3 conservative majority.
Today, all of Trump’s appointed judges — Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett — voted to overturn Roe and uphold Mississippi’s abortion ban.
And his former deputy Mike Pence said: “Today Life Won. In overturning Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court of the United States gave the American people a fresh start in life, and I commend the justices of majority to have the courage of their convictions.”
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell called the decision a historic victory for the Constitution and for the most vulnerable members of American society.