During remarks at a press conference connected to the NATO summit taking place this week in Madrid, President Joe Biden indicated he supports changing the Senate’s filibuster rules if necessary to re-establish abortion protections at the federal level.
Previously, such protections had been set up by the U.S. Supreme Court’s conclusions in Roe v. Wade, but that ruling relied on interpretations of previously established federal law. There was no portion of federal law that specifically established the federally recognized right to an abortion — and now, the Supreme Court has overturned Roe, allowing state officials to regulate abortion according to their personal and political ambitions, no matter the potential health consequences for their constituents who’ll no longer be able to freely access certain healthcare services. As Biden explained his position:
‘I believe we have to codify Roe v. Wade in the law. And the way to do that is to make sure that the Congress votes to do that, and if the filibuster gets in the way, it’s like voting rights, it should be we provide an exception for this, require an exception to the filibuster for this action to deal with the Supreme Court decision.’
“Asked to clarify his position further, Biden said he would support making an exception to the filibuster to protect the right to privacy,” NBC reports. It’s the right to privacy on which federal recognition of the right to an abortion previously relied. Biden also said he’d be meeting with governors later this week after returning to the U.S. to hear from them on potential action he can take to protect abortion rights. Officials in states around the country have sought to shore up their local protections for abortion access following the Supreme Court’s decision. Governors in California, New Mexico, Massachusetts and elsewhere have established they won’t be cooperating with potential out-of-state proceedings targeting somebody for receiving an abortion in their states, and a coalition of nearly two dozen attorney generals recently indicated a similar commitment. “If you seek access to abortion and reproductive health care, we’re committed to using the full force of the law to support you,” the officials said. Watch Biden’s comments below:
Biden: "We have to codify Roe v. Wade in the law. And the way to do that is to make sure that Congress votes to do that. And if the filibuster gets in the way — it's like voting rights — we provide an exception to the filibuster for this action to deal with the SCOTUS decision" pic.twitter.com/Ed8tMOwoQq
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) June 30, 2022
There have been calls elsewhere — including from House Speaker Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) — for changes to the Senate’s filibuster rules to allow for the re-establishment of abortion rights at the federal level. Ordinarily, those rules demand 60 Senators in the 100-member Senate agree before moving forward with most in-chamber initiatives, meaning obtaining a simple majority isn’t enough for certain action. Among the 50 Democrats currently in the Senate, 48 have indicated a willingness to make alterations to the filibuster under certain circumstances. (It’s that many who voted to make a change to allow for voting rights legislation to pass. The vote wasn’t successful.) There have also been calls for an expansion of the Supreme Court to address problems unfolding there, although Biden hasn’t indicated support for that proposal. Following the Supreme Court’s decision, numerous states quickly started the process of imposing draconian, new restrictions on abortion, and more could be on the way.