Joe Biden’s use of religion this week to defend Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court abortion ruling, has outraged “pro-lifers,” who see it as a new low for the Catholic president.
After struggling for decades to reconcile his politics and his faith — Biden apparently decided to just lie.
WHAT HE SAID
Speaking to reporters at Joint Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland, Biden said Roe, which in 1973 enshrined a federal right to abortion, accorded with how “all basic mainstream religions” view human life.
- Also Tuesday, the president issued a statement calling for “more pro-choice Senators and a pro-choice majority in the House to adopt legislation that codifies Roe, which I will work to pass and sign into law.”
- Returning to the threat to Roe at the White House Wednesday, Biden defended abortion by appealing to his rights as a “child of God.”
HOW WE GOT HERE
Biden’s abortion politics have gradually grown more liberal over nearly five decades in national office, but, as a practicing Catholic, he maintained his personal opposition to the procedure — until now.
1974: The then-freshman senator from Delaware told Washingtonian magazine he disagreed with Roe.
- “I don’t like the Supreme Court decision on abortion. I think it went too far. I don’t think that a woman has the sole right to say what should happen to her body,” he said.
1982: Biden signed an amendment proposed by Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, to overturn Roe and allow individual states to make their own decisions on abortion.
- The text of the Human Life Federalism Amendment, which Biden endorsed, read: “A right to abortion is not secured by this Constitution. The Congress and several States shall have the concurrent power to restrict and prohibit abortions: Provided, That a law of a State which is more restrictive than a law of Congress shall govern.”
2006: In an interview with Texas Monthly, Biden said he did not view abortion as a “right” and that he was a “little bit of an odd man out” in the Democratic Party because of his perspective on the issue.
- “I do not view abortion as a choice and a right. I think it’s always a tragedy,” he said. “I think it should be rare and safe. I think we should be focusing on how to limit the number of abortions.”
2012: During a vice presidential debate with then-Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., Biden said he agreed with the Catholic church’s teaching that life begins at conception.
- “With regard to abortion, I accept my church’s position on abortion as what we call de fide doctrine. Life begins at conception. That’s the church’s judgment. I accept it in my personal life. But I refuse to impose it on equally devout Christians and Muslims and Jews. I just refuse to impose it on others,” he said.
- “I do not believe that we have a right to tell women that they can’t control their body. It’s a decision between them and their doctor in my view, and [in the view of] the Supreme Court,” Biden added.
2019: After initially affirming his longstanding support for the Hyde Amendment, a measure barring federal funding for most abortions, Biden changed course days later under heavy pressure from his own party.
- “If I believe health care is a right, as I do, I can no longer support an amendment that makes that right dependent on someone’s ZIP code,” he explained at a gala hosted by the Democratic National Committee.
2021: Upon taking office in January, Biden rolled back several of former President Donald Trump’s restrictions on federal funds for abortion.
- In an executive order at the time, Biden vowed to “reverse my predecessor’s attack on women’s health access.”
WHAT THE CHURCH SAYS
“Abortion is murder. Those who carry out abortions kill,” Pope Francis said in September.
- “At the third week after conception, often even before the mother is aware (of being pregnant), all the organs are already (starting to develop). It is a human life. Period. And this human life has to be respected. It is very clear.”