Biden promises abortion rights law as Democrats try to rally voters


President Joe Biden is poised Tuesday to make a big promise of a push to enact abortion rights as his party looks to seize the politically divisive issue in the final push ahead of the midterm elections.

In an abortion-rights-focused speech at a Democratic National Committee event Tuesday, Biden will say that if Democrats elect more senators and retain control of the House in the interim, “the first bill he will send to the next Congress will be to codify Roe — and he will sign it around the 50th anniversary of the Roe decision,” a Democratic official told CNN.

Beginning in the 2020 campaign, Biden has called for the codification of Roe v. Wade, which had guaranteed a federal constitutional right to abortion. The Supreme Court overturned that earlier this year, changing access to reproductive health care in the country. It’s unclear how politically effective such a pledge to prioritize such a bill would be, given that Democrats face an intensely uphill battle in November to retain both the Senate and the House.

Biden has been unable to fulfill that campaign promise in part because he needs more than a simple majority in the Senate to overcome the chamber’s filibuster rules. While Biden has expressed support for lifting the 60-vote threshold to codify abortion rights, Democratic senators Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona remain opposed to such an opt-out. Biden has previously said he would need at least two more Democrats elected to the Senate to change filibuster rules and pass abortion rights legislation.

In remarks at the DNC event at the Howard Theater in Washington, DC, Biden plans to speak broadly about what he sees as the choices voters face in the midterms between Republicans pushing for a national abortion ban and going after doctors, who perform abortion services, versus Democrats who want to codify Roe v. Wade.

The official also said the context they want to keep making clear with Biden’s speech Tuesday is that “almost half of the states in the United States have either passed a ban on abortion or will soon, and in many states abortion is already prohibited, even in cases of rape and incest.”

Since the Supreme Court ruling earlier this year, Democrats have hoped that abortion rights would embolden and mobilize voters and have seen some signs of that momentum.

For example, in a recent survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation, 50% of registered voters said the Supreme Court decision has made them more motivated to vote next month—up 7 percentage points from July, when the same question was asked just a few weeks after the ruling. Come down. About half of voters in states with full abortion bans also said their states’ abortion laws have made them more motivated to vote.

Women are especially motivated by the Supreme Court decision, the new survey found: About 3 in 5 women ages 18 to 49 who said they are more likely to go to the polls next month cited the overturning of Roe as a motivating factor factor.

But a recent CNN/SSRS poll found the economy remains the key focus for voters, with 90% saying it was extremely or very important to their vote. Fewer – 72% – said the same about abortion.

And a New York Times/Sienna poll found that likely voters see the economy (26%) and inflation (18%) as the most important issue facing the country, with only 5% choosing abortion as their biggest issue.

The economy and inflation take on extra importance in competitive congressional districts. While 59% of registered voters nationally called the economy extremely important to their vote, that rose to 67% in those districts, and the share calling inflation so important rose from 56% to 64%.

Abortion has been a complicated issue for the president, who has witnessed the shifting politics around it over the half-century of his career and reckoned with personal scruples rooted in his Catholic faith. As a candidate in 2019, Biden reversed his longtime support for an amendment that prevented federal funds from being used for abortions.

As his administration unveiled new steps to improve abortion protections earlier this month, Biden said he would not “sit by and let Republicans across the country pass extreme policies.”

The White House has seized on a proposal by Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina that would introduce a federal ban on most abortions at 15 weeks of pregnancy. At a Democratic fundraiser in New York City last month, the president described Graham’s bill as a symbol of Republicans becoming “more extreme in their positions.”

As the midterm elections approach, Biden has argued that voters need to elect more Democrats to codify the protections of Roe v. Wade into law. He has also vowed to veto any bill that would ban abortions at the federal level if Republicans take control of Congress.

More than a dozen states have seen abortion bans take effect since the Dobbs ruling, affecting nearly 30 million women of childbearing age.

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