Jun 24, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Democrats condemn Supreme Court's abortion ruling

Abortion rights and anti-abortion demonstrators outside the Supreme Court on June 23.
Abortion rights and anti-abortion demonstrators outside the Supreme Court on June 23. Photo: Valerie Plesch/Bloomberg via Getty Images

President Biden, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, former President Obama and other Democrats heavily criticized the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, saying the court retracted a fundamental right and warning that Republicans may seek a nationwide abortion ban.

Driving the news: The court overturned Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey on Friday, effectively ending all federal protections on abortion.

  • In the court's 6-3 majority opinion, written by Justice Samuel Alito, the court ruled that "The Constitution does not confer a right to abortion; Roe and Casey are overruled, and the authority to regulate abortion is returned to the people and their elected representatives."
  • Without Roe and other Supreme Court precedents guaranteeing abortion access, states have the legal authority to regulate or ban the procedure at any point in a pregnancy — including at fertilization, Axios' Oriana Gonzalez reports.

What they're saying:

President Biden:
  • Biden said in an address Friday: "This fall, Roe is on the ballot. Personal freedoms are on the ballot. The right to privacy, liberty, equality, they're all on the ballot."
  • "Now with Roe gone, let's be very clear: The health and life of women in this nation are now at risk," Biden said from the White House, adding that "it's a sad day for the court and for the country."
  • "The court has done what it has never done before: expressly take away a constitutional right that is so fundamental to so many Americans that had already been recognized."
  • "It was three justices named by one President Donald Trump who are 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 offset balance of our law."
Former President Obama:
  • Obama said in a tweet: "Today, the Supreme Court not only reversed nearly 50 years of precedent, it relegated the most intensely personal decision someone can make to the whims of politicians and ideologues—attacking the essential freedoms of millions of Americans."
  • "Across the country, states have already passed bills restricting choice. If you're looking for ways to respond, [Planned Parenthood], [United State of Women] and many other groups have been sounding the alarm on this issue for years —and will continue to be on the front lines of this fight," he added.
  • "For more than a month, we’ve known this day was coming — but that doesn’t make it any less devastating," he added, referring to a leaked draft opinion written by Alito and published by Politico in early May showing the court was poised to overturn the precedent set by one of its landmark cases.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi:
  • Pelosi said in a statement: "Today, the Republican-controlled Supreme Court has achieved the GOP’s dark and extreme goal of ripping away women’s right to make their own reproductive health decisions."
  • "Because of Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell, the Republican Party & their supermajority on the Supreme Court, American women today have less freedom than their mothers. Radical Republicans are now charging ahead with their crusade to criminalize health freedom," she added.
  • "In Congress, Republicans are plotting a nationwide abortion ban. In the states, they want to arrest doctors offering reproductive care & women for terminating a pregnancy. GOP extremists are threatening to criminalize contraception, in-vitro fertilization & post-miscarriage care."
  • "A woman’s fundamental health decisions are her own to make, in consultation with her doctor & her loved ones — not to be dictated by far-right politicians. While Republicans seek to punish & control women, Democrats will keep fighting ferociously to enshrine Roe v. Wade into law. "
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer:
  • "American women are having their rights taken by 5 unelected Justices on the extremist MAGA court," he added.
  • "These justices — appointed by Republicans and presiding without accountability — have stolen the fundamental right to abortion."
Sen. Joe Manchin (W.Va.):
  • Manchin, a Democrat who does not support the right to abortion, said in a statement: "I am deeply disappointed that the Supreme Court has voted to overturn Roe v. Wade."
  • "It has been the law of the land for nearly 50 years and was understood as to be settled precedent," he added.
  • "I trusted Justice Gorsuch and Justice Kavanaugh when they testified under oath that they also believed Roe v. Wade was settled legal precedent and I am alarmed they chose to reject the stability the ruling has provided for two generations of Americans."
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.):
  • Ocasio-Cortez said in a tweet: "Overturning Roe and outlawing abortions will never make them go away."
  • "It only makes them more dangerous, especially for the poor + marginalized," she added.
  • "People will die because of this decision. And we will never stop until abortion rights are restored in the United States of America."
Attorney General Merrick Garland:
  • Garland, a former federal judge who does not explicitly identify as a Democrat but serves as the attorney general under a Democratic administration, said in a statement: "The Justice Department strongly disagrees with this Court's decision. This decision deals a devastating blow to reproductive freedom in the United States."
  • "The Supreme Court has eliminated an established right that has been an essential component of women's liberty for half a century — a right that safeguarded women's ability to participate fully and equally in society," he added.
  • "And in renouncing this fundamental right, which it had repeatedly recognized and reaffirmed, the court has upended the doctrine of stare decisis, a key pillar of the rule of law."
  • "The Justice Department will work tirelessly to protect and advance reproductive freedom."

Editor's note: This story was corrected to reflect the court's decision came on Friday. It has also been updated with additional reactions.

Go deeper