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Biden pulls back on pledge to codify Roe v. Wade

(The Center Square) – President Joe Biden raised eyebrows Monday telling reporters that he expects no progress on the abortion issue in the second half of his term.

“I don’t think they can expect much of anything other than we’re going to maintain our positions,” Biden said when asked by a reporter what Congress would do on abortion following the midterms. “I’m not going to get into more questions. I shouldn’t even answer your question.”

The comments come just days after many Americans gave Democrats control of the U.S. Senate after Biden’s pledge to codify Roe v. Wade after the Supreme Court overturned it earlier this year, sending the issue back to the states.

“We’re only 22 days away from the most consequential moment in our history in my view, in recent history at least, an election where the choice and the stakes are crystal clear, especially when it comes to the right to choose,” Biden said in October. “Right now, we’re short a handful of votes. If you care about the right to choose then you got to vote. That’s why these midterm elections are so critical to elect more Democratic senators in the United States Senate and more Democrats to keep control of the House of Representatives.”

Exit polls released after last Tuesday’s vote suggested that while inflation still topped voters’ minds, abortion was a more significant factor for those casting their ballot than previous polling had suggested. That may have been what propelled Democrats to fend off a “red wave,” keeping their majority in the Senate as control of the House remains undetermined.

“If we elect two more Democratic United States Senators, President Joe Biden will sign the protections of Roe v. Wade into law,” Vice President Kamala Harris tweeted November 6, just before the midterm elections.

Now, just days after the election, Biden said it appears unlikely things will change.

“I don’t think there’s enough votes to codify unless something happens unusual in the House,” Biden told the media after meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Bali. “I think we’re going to come very close in the House, but I don’t think we’re going to make it.”

Biden’s prediction on the House is in line with current estimates. NBC News projects that Republicans will control the House, 219 to 216, just barely securing the 218 seats needed for a majority.

So far, the Associated Press has called 212 races for Republicans and 203 for Democrats.

In his own Nov. 6 tweet, Biden did stipulate his pledge depended on full control of government.

“Republicans in Congress have already introduced legislation to ban the right to choose nationwide, but if we elect more Senate Democrats and keep control of the House, we will codify Roe v. Wade as the law of the land,” Biden wrote on Twitter.

Biden’s comments were met with celebration from pro-life advocates, who have worked in states around the country to pass new legislation in response to the Supreme Court’s June ruling.

“The President should dedicate his remaining two years to working to codify a law that protects preborn American citizens in the womb,” said Hugh Brown, executive vice president of American Life League.

Others called for no taxpayer funding of abortion. Recent reporting from The Center Square showed that federal funding for Planned Parenthood has continued to increase, rising even as its revenue rose to $1.71 billion in 2020-21. About 37% of Planned Parenthood’s revenue comes from taxpayers. In recent years, the group’s abortions rose even while the total number of patients declined.

Defenders of Planned Parenthood say federal funds are used for other non-abortion services, but critics argue the money is fungible and covers the group’s costs regardless of how it is officially earmarked.

“When Joe Biden and the Democrats talk about ‘codifying Roe,’ what they mean is imposing abortion without limits on all 50 states,” said Eric Scheidler, executive director of the Pro-Life Action League. “They don’t have the votes for that, and will never have the votes for that because the American people are not abortion extremists. Americans support moderate policies like late-term abortion limits, parental notification of abortion, and no taxpayer funding of abortion – none of which Biden and the Democrats will consider for even a moment.”

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