In a meeting with Democratic governors to discuss abortion access on Friday, President Joe Biden said the nation could go “one way or the other” depending on who is elected to Congress in November’s midterm elections, noting he was concerned about the possibility of a nationwide abortion ban in the future if Republicans take and keep the majorities in the coming years.
Biden met with nine governors who were making an effort to protect abortion rights in their states and who urged the president to do more at the federal level, including Gov. Kathy Hochul of New York and Gov. Roy Cooper of North Carolina.
The president called the Supreme Court decision to reverse Roe v. Wade “tragic” and a “terrible and extreme decision.”
“I share the public outrage that this extremist court has committed to moving America backwards with fewer rights, less autonomy and politicians invading the most personal decisions,” Biden said.
He warned that November’s midterms elections could shape the future of abortion rights and offered Americans two choices: elect more Democratic lawmakers who will help codify Roe v. Wade into federal law or face a potential Republican majority in the House and Senate who will work to further chip away at abortion rights.
“This is going to go one way or the other after November,” he said, adding that he feared a nationwide abortion ban may make it through Congress, although any legislation of that kind would need an anti-abortion president to sign it into law.
Governors on Friday outlined their efforts to protect abortion rights and offered options for Biden at the federal level.
Gov. Hochul — whose state senate passed a measure Friday that would solidify the right to seek an abortion in the constitution — said New York would be a “safe harbor” for women seeking abortions.
Hochul said she had allocated $35 million in funding for abortion providers to expand services, for example, and that all insurance companies doing business in New York would have to cover abortion.
“This is chaos. It’s frightening. But also we’re doing what we can to make sure that, you know, we are protected,” she said. “The rights of millions of women across this country are now falling on the shoulders of just a handful of states.”
Hochul and Gov. Cooper of North Carolina both praised Biden on Friday for his comments supporting getting rid of the Senate filibuster — which makes it so bills must have at least 60 votes to pass — in order to codify abortion rights in Congress.
But Biden himself admitted that is likely not possible, since all Democrats would have to agree to change Senate rules, and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Joe Manchin of West Virginia oppose getting rid of the filibuster.
“That means we need two more votes,” Biden said Friday.
Cooper — whose Republican-led legislature has now moved to restrict abortion rights — said his state expects at least an additional 10,000 women to come from out of state to North Carolina for an abortion in the next year, mostly due to restrictions in neighboring states.
“Women and doctors should not have these politicians in the exam room with them looking over their shoulders,” he said.
Gov. Hochul urged Biden to take a look at offering abortions at federal facilities like veterans hospitals and military bases, though administration officials have all but rejected the idea of offering the procedure on public lands.
Gov. Michelle Lujan-Grisham of New Mexico said leaders of some Indian nations had reached out to her about the idea of offering abortions at Indian Health Service clinics.
President Biden said they were looking at that idea. He did not announce any new federal actions but pointed to what the administration has committed to so far: protecting women who want to travel to another state for an abortion, making abortion medication accessible and broadening access to family planning resources.