President Joe Biden announced on Thursday that he would support nixing the filibuster to pass nationwide abortion laws through the Senate.
“We have to codify Roe v. Wade in the law, and the way to do that is to make sure the Congress votes to do that,” Biden said at a news conference in Europe. “And if the filibuster gets in the way, it’s like voting rights, we provide an exception for this, or an exception to the filibuster for this action.”
The exhortation follows the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade — the 1973 decision claiming that the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution protects abortion — at the end of last week. While several Democrat-run states have pushed for removing limits on abortion, Republican-run states began implementing more regulations.
“It is a mistake, in my view, for the Supreme Court to do what it did,” Biden continued. “I feel extremely strongly that I’m going to do everything in my power, which I legally can do in terms of executive orders, as well as push the Congress and the public.”
Despite Biden’s proposal to suspend the filibuster — the 60-vote threshold required to pass most legislation through the Senate — efforts to strengthen federal abortion law have repeatedly failed in recent months.
The Women’s Health Protection Act — sponsored by Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) — failed by a 46 to 48 margin in February and by a 49 to 51 margin in May. The legislation would have invoked Congress’ right to regulate interstate commerce and barred state-level regulations such as ultrasound requirements, waiting periods, and certain gestational age restrictions.
Democrats mourned their failure to pass the legislation, which has already been greenlit by the House of Representatives. Yet progressive lawmakers resumed calls for the Senate to pass the legislation after Roe was overturned.
“The House passed the Women’s Health Protection Act months ago,” Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) said last week. “The Senate must reject the filibuster and pass it. This is the worst reversal of constitutional freedom since the Court gutted the Reconstruction amendments in the 19th and 20th centuries.”
“In Oregon, we have strong protections to make sure everyone can access the reproductive care they need, including abortion care,” Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) added on Thursday. “I will continue to work to pass legislation like the Women’s Health Protection Act to make sure everyone in the U.S. has that same access.”
In the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision, several businesses have announced plans to bankroll employees’ travel to seek abortions in other states.
“Our company remains committed to removing barriers and providing comprehensive access to quality and affordable care for all of our employees, cast members and their families, including family planning and reproductive care, no matter where they live,” Disney executives Paul Richardson and Pascale Thomas said in a memo.
“In response to today’s ruling, we are announcing that if a state one of our teammates lives in restricts access to abortion, DICK’S Sporting Goods will provide up to $4,000 in travel expense reimbursement to travel to the nearest location where that care is legally available,” DICK’S Sporting Goods CEO Lauren Hobart said. “This benefit will be provided to any teammate, spouse or dependent enrolled in our medical plan, along with one support person.”