Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden vowed that he would pass legislation to make Roe v. Wade “the law of the land,” protecting it from a Supreme Court that may soon be filled with a majority of conservative justices.
Republicans have made it clear that despite a forced recess in the Senate due to the COVID-19 pandemic — which has infected three senators — they will forge ahead with confirmation of President Trump’s nominee, Judge Amy Coney Barrett.
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Barrett, a federal appellate judge, has faced attacks from liberal women’s groups and Planned Parenthood, who say she is a threat to women’s reproductive rights. Democrats worry that if she is appointed to the Supreme Court, she will help to roll back abortion rights as well as the Affordable Care Act.
“We don’t know exactly what she will do, although the expectation is that she may very well move to overrule Roe,” Biden said during a town hall event on Monday night hosted by NBC News, referring to the landmark Supreme Court decision in 1973 that legalized abortion across the nation.
“The only responsible response to that would be to pass legislation making Roe the law of the land. That’s what I would do,” he said.
Biden has held back on criticizing Barrett herself since Trump nominated her in late September following the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a leader of the court’s liberal wing.
Biden has instead urged the Senate to hold off on confirming her to a lifetime appointment until after the November elections.
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Republicans, however, have said they will begin Barrett’s confirmation process on Oct. 12 despite Democrats worrying that a recent slew of coronavirus infections could pose a danger to senators and staffers appearing in person.
Trump — who is still battling with the coronavirus after returning to the White House from a brief stay at Walter Reed Military Medical Center — lashed out at Biden for his promise to codify abortion protections.
“Wow. Joe Biden just took a more Liberal position on Roe v. Wade than Elizabeth Warren at her highest,” Trump said on Twitter, accusing Democrats of supporting late-term abortions.
“He also wants to PACK our great United States Supreme Court. This is what the Dems will do. Remember as they try changing positions before elections end. GET OUT AND VOTE!”
Biden has so far kept mum on Supreme Court packing, an idea supported by some Democrats angry that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s Republicans are pushing to fill a vacancy that opened a little more than a month before the elections when they refused to consider Democratic President Barack Obama’s nomination nine months before the 2016 vote.
Republicans maintained at that time that voters should have a voice in the decision.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 91 percent of abortions in the U.S. are performed within the first 13 weeks of pregnancy and only 1.4 percent occur at or after 21 weeks.
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Democrats in some states, including Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, have advocated for legislation that would make exceptions for women in their third trimester to have an abortion if it is necessary to preserve the health and safety of the mother.