The two leading Democratic presidential candidates pledged during Tuesday’s debate to codify legalized abortion into federal law, thus ensuring it remains the law of the land if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade.
Former Vice President Joe Biden and U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) said Congress should pass a law supporting legalizing abortion because Roe is threatened. Roe and its accompanying decisions legalized abortion nationwide through all nine months of pregnancy.
“I would make sure that … we codify Roe v. Wade,” Biden said. “The public is already there. Things have changed. … Reproductive rights are a constitutional right. And, in fact, every woman should have that right.”
Biden leads Warren in the RealClear Politics nationwide polling average, although Warren has led him in several recent surveys.
“We now have support across this country,” Warren said. “Three out of four Americans believe in the rule of Roe v. Wade. When you've got three out of four Americans supporting it, we should be able to get that passed through Congress.”
Surveys show the public supports Roe v. Wade (60 percent in the latest Gallup poll) but also backs major restrictions on abortion – restrictions that Roe and its accompanying decisions prohibit. For example, only 25 percent of American adults say abortion should always be legal, according to Gallup, which also has found that most Americans oppose legalized abortion in the second and third trimesters. The country is split evenly on the “pro-life” and “pro-choice” labels.
U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris (Calif.) said during the debate she would nullify state-passed pro-life laws.
“For any state that passes a law that violates the Constitution, and in particular Roe v. Wade, our Department of Justice will review that law to determine if it is compliant with Roe v. Wade and the Constitution, and if it is not, that law will not go into effect,” Harris said. “That's called pre-clearance.
“The reality of it is, this is still a fundamental issue of justice for women in America. Women have been given the responsibility to perpetuate the human species,” Harris added. “Our bodies were created to do that. And it does not give any other person the right to tell a woman what to do with that body. It is her body. It is her right. It is her decision.”
Harris’ comments led to pushback by pro-life women on social media.
Again I’ll say this for the second time in 24 hours, a preborn baby is NOT a body part of a woman. Anyone who speaks as if they are should never be allowed anywhere near power of authority. pic.twitter.com/Iw3rDx3Nrv— Obianuju Ekeocha (@obianuju) October 16, 2019
Lila Rose, founder and president of Live Action, also criticized Warren and the other candidates.
“No candidate on the stage tonight acknowledged the scientific reality that a child in the womb IS a human being, and as a human being has the basic right to life,” Rose tweeted. “Instead, each one of them supports killing children. Allowing mothers to kill their own children.”
No candidate on the stage tonight acknowledged the scientific reality that a child in the womb IS a human being, and as a human being has the basic right to life.— Lila Rose (@LilaGraceRose) October 16, 2019
Instead, each one of them supports killing children. Allowing mothers to kill their own children.#DemocraticDebate
Michael Foust is a freelance writer. Visit his blog, MichaelFoust.com.
Photos courtesy: Getty Images/Scott Olson/Staff, Mario Tama
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, The Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.