White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre on Tuesday dodged two questions from a reporter on President Joe Biden’s stance on abortion restrictions after he vowed to codify Roe v. Wade earlier in the day after the landmark case was overruled in June.
RealClearPolitics White House reporter Philip Wegmann first asked whether the president’s proposed codification of Roe would reverse individual states’ abortion restrictions implemented before the ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which overturned Roe. He followed up by asking, whether the president would support any restrictions on abortion.
“What the president is going to do, and wants to do and believes in doing is codifying Roe,” Jean-Pierre answered. “He believes that is what was law of the land, a constitutional right for almost 50 years and he believes, in its specific provisions, was rightly decided. He has said this regularly, including right after Dobbs, and that has not changed.”
“Right, but that didn’t answer either question. First of all, there are individual state restrictions on abortion in the books currently around the country,” Wegmann responded. “Some of those existed before the Dobbs case, before the overturn of Roe. Would the president, with this bill to codify Roe — does he want that bill to go farther?”
“I just answered that question, he believes in Roe and how it stood before the Dobbs decision,” she answered. The 1973 Roe decision legalized abortion nationwide up until the point of fetal viability, around 22 weeks. States remained free to restrict the procedure beyond that point.
When Wegmann repeated his question about the president’s potential support for any restrictions, the press secretary encouraged him to read the Roe v. Wade decision to understand the president’s stance on abortion.
During a Tuesday address, the president promised that if Democrats are able to keep control of the house and win a clear majority in the Senate in November’s midterm elections, he would enshrine the provisions of Roe v. Wade in federal law.
“The first bill I will send to the Congress will be to codify Roe v. Wade. And when Congress passes it, I’ll sign it in January, 50 years after Roe was first decided the law of the land,” Biden said.
Several prominent Democratic candidates have remained unwilling to make clear statements on what abortion restrictions, if any, they would support, although Democratic Pennsylvania Senate candidate John Fetterman told a reporter in May that he does not support any restrictions on abortion, claiming that “that choice is between a woman, her doctor, and a god–if she prays to one.”
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