Biden and Harris vow to defend US abortion rights ‘with every tool we possess’

President and vice president issue comments on 49th anniversary of Roe v Wade judgment

Anti-abortion activists take part in the annual ‘March for Life’ in front of the US Supreme Court in Washington DC on Friday. Photograph: Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images

US president Joe Biden and vice president Kamala Harris have promised to defend existing abortion rights in America “with every tool we possess”.

They also said the constitutional right to abortion in the US, set out under the controversial Roe v Wade Supreme Court ruling, should be set out in legislation.

Mr Biden and Ms Harris made their comments on Saturday in a statement to mark the 49th anniversary of the Supreme Court abortion judgement in 1973.

The statement came as the current Supreme Court - which has a conservative majority - is due to rule later this year on what is seen as the most significant challenge to the Roe v Wade ruling in decades.


If the court does not uphold the existing arrangement, pro-choice groups believe that many states across the US could introduce their own restrictions on abortion services.

Thousands of anti-abortion activists held a rally in Washington on Friday marking the the annual “march for life” event.

Mr Biden and Ms Harris said on Saturday that the constitutional right established in Roe v Wade nearly 50 years ago was “under assault as never before”.

“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,” they said.

Under attack

“In recent years, we have seen efforts to restrict access to reproductive health care increase at an alarming rate. 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. And they are particularly devastating for those who have fewer options and fewer resources, such as those in underserved communities, including communities of colour and many in rural areas.”

The president and vice president said their administration strongly supported efforts to codify the 1973 abortion ruling in legislation “and we will continue to work with Congress on the Women’s Health Protection Act.

“All people deserve access to reproductive health care regardless of their gender, income, race, zip code, health insurance status, immigration status, disability, or sexual orientation.”

They said the “continued defence of this constitutional right is essential to our health, safety, and progress as a nation”.

“We must 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-including leaders like the late Sarah Weddington, whose successful arguments before the Supreme Court led to the landmark Roe v. Wade decision in 1973.”

Martin Wall

Martin Wall

Martin Wall is the former Washington Correspondent of The Irish Times. He was previously industry correspondent