Biden Says He’ll Support Filibuster Changes to Codify Abortion Rights

Biden Says He’ll Support Filibuster Changes to Codify Abortion Rights
Photo: Denis Doyle, Getty Images

President Joe Biden told reporters on Thursday that he would support changing senate filibuster rules in order to codify the “right to privacy” and abortion rights into law.

“I believe we have to codify Roe V. Wade into law, and the way to do that is to make sure congress votes to do that,” Biden said Thursday morning in a press conference after attending NATO and G7 meetings in Madrid. “And if the filibuster gets in the way, it’s like voting rights… we should provide an exception to the filibuster for this action.”

Biden has previously signalled support for ending the filibuster on voting rights as well back in January. The senate requires a 60-vote threshold to end debate in the senate, and the slim 50-Democrat majority has so far been unwilling to move against it. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wrote Monday that her fellow Democrats were looking into legislation that could codify abortion rights, as well as protecting personal data on reproductive health apps.

The president mentioned his planned talks with state governors about abortion rights. He said that the ruling doesn’t just affect “a women’s right to choose, which is a critical, critical piece,” but “privacy, generally.” He further claimed he was going to do “everything in my power, which I legally can do in terms of executive orders” to further abortion rights.

Of course there are things the executive branch can do now to allow access to abortion, such as opening up federal land for abortion clinics. Some congressional Democrats have also said the president should provide vouchers for women travelling out of state for abortions. Others, like New York Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, have said Biden should even look to expanding the number of justices on the supreme court’s bench.

Congress has tried and failed to pass a legitimate voting rights bill, even before the news leaked in May that the Supreme Court was planning to overturn the landmark Roe V. Wade decision that guaranteed women the right to an abortion. A test vote taken by the Senate in May did not get anywhere near the number of votes needed to support that legislation. All Republicans and everyone’s favourite West Virginian Democrat Joe Manchin voted against the legislation.

Manchin and Republican senator from Maine Susan Collins both said they were “misled” by Supreme Court Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, claiming that each had testified in congress and in closed door meetings that they weren’t interested in overturning “settled legal precedent.” Manchin has expressed his displeasure at altering the filibuster, but has said he supports codifying Roe in some way, shape, or form.