Former President Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama released a statement on Tuesday in response to news that the Supreme Court is poised to overturn Roe v. Wade.
In a draft majority opinion leaked to Politico on Monday night, Justice Samuel Alito writes that “Roe was egregiously wrong from the start” and “we hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled.” According to Politico, the draft is “a full-throated, unflinching repudiation of the 1973 decision which guaranteed federal constitutional protections of abortion rights and a subsequent 1992 decision — Planned Parenthood v. Casey — that largely maintained the right.”
Barack and Michelle Obama released a statement on Tuesday condemning the Supreme Court’s tentative decision.
“Today, millions of Americans woke up fearing that their essential freedoms under the Constitution were at risk,” the couple said. “If the Supreme Court ultimately decides to overturn the landmark case of Roe v. Wade, then it will not only reverse nearly 50 years of precedent — it will relegate the most intensely personal decision someone can make to the whims of politicians and ideologues.”
Obama releases a 719 word statement reacting to the leak of the draft court opinion on Roe v. Wade pic.twitter.com/1jfbLrLG3Y
— Charlie Spiering (@charliespiering) May 3, 2022
The statement claims that “few, if any, women make the decision to terminate a pregnancy casually” and pushes the initial reasoning for Roe — that the Fourteenth Amendment “requires all of us to enjoy a sphere of our lives that isn’t subject to meddling from the state.”
In the Obamas’ view, this includes “who we sleep with, who we marry, whether or not to use contraception, and whether or not to bear children.”
During his tenure in the White House, Obama was an ardent supporter of abortion. In the first days of his presidency, Obama revoked the Mexico City Policy — which forbids the United States from funding abortion overseas — to “restore critical efforts to protect and empower women and promote global economic development.”
“The consequences of this decision would be a blow not just to women, but to all of us who believe that in a free society, there are limits to how much the government can encroach on our personal lives,” the Obamas’ statement continued. “Instead, as we’ve already begun to see in states with restrictive abortion laws, those women with means would travel to states where abortion remains legal and safe. Meanwhile, those without enough money or access to transportation or ability to take off from school or work would face the same circumstances most women faced before Roe.”
“We ask you to think about the college student waking up after her date forced her into unprotected sex,” the statement added. “Think about the couple that tried to have children for years, who are without any options when faced with the tragic reality of an unviable pregnancy. Think of any of the hundreds of thousands of women each year who deserve the dignity and freedom of making a decision that is right for their bodies and their circumstances.”
The Obamas’ statement concluded by calling Americans to protest, vote, volunteer, and urge Congress to codify Roe — a move that aligns with President Joe Biden’s platform and calls made by several leading Democratic lawmakers.