Joe Biden spoke Friday in response to the Supreme Court ruling in Dobbs vs. Jackson Women’s Health, in which the Court dismissed Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey. The speech was heavy with anger but light with truthfulness. Here are some of Biden’s worst whoppers.
Claim 1: “Today, the United States Supreme Court has expressly taken away from the American people a constitutional right it had already recognized.”
Biden went on to explain that the constitutional right he was referring to was “women’s right to choose,” which “reinforced a fundamental right to privacy.”
Biden also commented on the history of abortion in America. In the 1800s, it was widely banned. “The court enacted state laws criminalizing abortion dating back to the 1800s as their rationale.” But abortion has been legal for 50 years. “Roe v. Wade has decided fifty years ago and has been the law of the land ever since.”
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A constitutional right is a right guaranteed by the United States Constitution. The Supreme Court wrote in Roe v. Wade that “the Constitution makes no explicit mention of any right to privacy.” However, the Court has inferred a “right to personal privacy” from several previous rulings and various constitutional provisions. Without definitively establishing where the right to privacy resided, they stated it was “broad enough to encompass a woman’s decision whether or not to terminate her pregnancy.” The Court did not use the phrase “women’s right to choose” in Roe; that sentence comes from the decision in Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992). In Casey, a multiple of the Court partly quashed and partly in favor of Roe.
Biden correctly stated that what he termed a “constitutional right” was not ratified by the Court or the law of the land until long after the constitution and all relevant amendments had been approved. The “right to privacy” and “women’s right to choose” are only recognized in US law because of two Supreme Court cases, which the Supreme Court quashed in Dobbs.
Whatever power the Supreme Court had to establish such a right, it has now used that power to remove it. Biden’s characterization of abortion as a “constitutional right,” as opposed to one arbitrarily created by the Court, is FALSE.
Claim 2: “This decision…made the United States an outlier among the world’s developed countries.”
According to the Family Research Council, national law in “only six countries” allows “abortion at any time during the entire pregnancy.” Those six countries were Canada, China, North Korea, South Korea, the United States, and Vietnam.
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By quashing Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court in Dobbs did not impose national rules banning abortion. Instead, they abolished federal protections for abortion, giving states more leeway to legislate on the issue. In Dobbs, the Supreme Court made the United States less of an outlier than the rest of the world. Therefore, this statement is: FALSE.
Claim 3: “The court has done what it has never done before, expressly taking away a constitutional right so fundamental to so many Americans that it had already been recognized.”
Biden repeatedly used the phrase “had already (has) been recognized,” as if the recognition of rights inherently worked as a one-way street; once recognized, they could never be unrecognizable. This is the progressive understanding of the rights textbook, in which justice moves into the future in an ever-expanding cone of rights.
The closest parallel to abortion in American history is slavery and segregation. Abortion, like slavery in America, required the legal denial of one group of people’s personality — and the natural rights that come with it — for the benefit of another. Unlike abortion, enslaved people’s right to property was protected, or at least permitted, by several provisions of the constitution. The Court previously recognized that right (Dred Scott v. Sanford, 1857) but has not recognized it since the 13th Amendment was ratified. But slavery was replaced by racially motivated segregation, which still denied a group of people full equality. The Supreme Court approved this injustice in Plessy v. Ferguson (1896), which took half a century until Brown v. Board of Education (1954). Likewise, Roe v. Wade’s injustice took half a century for the Court to end.
Biden’s statement was filled with vague qualifications – “so fundamental”, “so many Americans” – so its defenders could argue that it was technically true. However, his statement argues that there is no precedent for the Supreme Court to dismiss a case like Roe v. Wade. That characterization is fortunate: FALSE.
Claim 4: “I believe Roe v. Wade was the right decision…a decision of broad national consensus, which most Americans of creed and background found acceptable.”
Biden meant to say, “Americans with the most religions and backgrounds” (most Americans…with backgrounds?). However, he later admitted that the attempt to overthrow Roe v. Wade was long overdue. “Make no mistake, this decision is the result of decades of conscious effort,” he said. The attempt to overthrow Roe v. Wade began almost immediately. On January 22, 1974, a year after Roe’s decision was made, 20,000 people took part in the first March for Life, which has mobilized millions of Americans against abortion over the past five decades.
The Supreme Court explained in Dobbs: “At Roe’s time, 30 states still banned abortion at all stages. In the years leading up to that decision, about a third of states had liberalized their laws, but Roe abruptly ended that political process.”
Nor does Roe’s substance (less popular than the demagogic talking point) enjoy broad consensus, even after it has been the law of the land for nearly 50 years. According to a Marist poll published in January, 71% of Americans, including 49% of Democrats, oppose abortion after the first three months of pregnancy.
There has never been a “broad national consensus” in favor of abortion. Therefore, this statement is: FALSE.
Claim 5: “[State laws are] so extreme that women and girls are forced to give birth to their rapist’s child. …Imagine a young woman carrying a child due to incest without any option.”
Most of the pro-abortion rhetoric of decades is based on the fiction that overthrowing Roe v. Wade would ban all abortions everywhere (hence the poll showing more support for Roe v. Wade than for the extreme provisions it contained). But this is not true. Now that Roe v. Wade has been reversed, abortion policies are returning to the governments of 50 states, each of whom can enact the laws they see fit.
Biden admitted this himself. “Many states in this country still recognize a woman’s right to choose,” he said. “So if a woman lives in a state that restricts abortion, the Supreme Court’s decision won’t stop her from traveling from her home state to the state that allows it. It doesn’t stop a doctor in that state from treating her.”
Pro-abortion rhetoric also emphasizes cases of rape and incest, where the woman’s plight is likely to arouse the most widespread sympathy (but since the baby was not allowed to choose their parents, such an abortion is just as unjust as all the others). Such emphasis is misplaced, as rape and incest cases account for less than 2% of abortions. In addition, instead of helping abused women, abortion companies have sometimes covered up abusers.
Regardless of the emotionally charged issues of rape and incest, the fact remains that Biden contradicted his claim by explaining how women can get an abortion. Anyone who wants an abortion can travel to a state where it remains legal and get one. Therefore, this statement is: FALSE.
To get a more accurate picture of what abortion policy will look like in America in the future, check out the Family Research Council’s interactive maps that show the landscape of state policy in the post-Roe era.
LifeNews Note: Joshua Arnold is a staff writer at The Washington Stand, providing news and commentary from a biblical worldview.