On Friday, acknowledging the 48th anniversary of the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision, President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris issued a statement committing to support and defend the landmark court decision that legalized abortion nationwide and work to have it codified into law.
"In the past four years, reproductive health, including the right to choose, has been under relentless and extreme attack. We are deeply committed to making sure everyone has access to care – including reproductive health care – regardless of income, race, zip code, health insurance status, or immigration status," Biden, a self-described devout Catholic, and Harris said in a joint statement.
"The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to codifying Roe v. Wade and appointing judges that respect foundational precedents like Roe," they continued.
Abortion rights activists have long sought to have Roe enshrined in federal law to create a national abortion policy that would limit states' ability to pass abortion restrictions. State-led efforts to pass heartbeat bills, banning abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected, or laws banning abortion after 20 weeks when an unborn child can feel pain could potentially be thwarted if federal law set the rules and procedures for abortion. Pro-abortion activists see these state restrictions as unconstitutional infringements on the right to abortion.
"Nearly half a century later, abortion is a right in name only for millions of people across the country," Planned Parenthood President Alexis McGill Johnson said in a statement to TheHill Friday.
"As reproductive justice organizations have said for years, Roe is the floor, not the ceiling," she said.
"Without access to abortion, this right is meaningless. Now is the time for President Biden and our elected officials in states across the country to take necessary and immediate action to ensure that everyone, no matter their race, income, or ZIP code, has access to safe and legal abortion."
The Biden-Harris statement stands in stark contrast to the policies of the previous administration. Donald Trump, in one of his last acts as president, for the fourth time proclaimed Jan. 22 to be National Sanctity of Human Life Day, declaring "every human life is a gift to the world."
"This month, we mark nearly 50 years since the United States Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision. This constitutionally flawed ruling overturned State laws that banned abortion, and has resulted in the loss of more than 50 million innocent lives," Trump said in a statement.
"I call on the Congress to join me in protecting and defending the dignity of every human life, including those not yet born. I call on the American people to continue to care for women in unexpected pregnancies and to support adoption and foster care in a more meaningful way, so every child can have a loving home. And finally, I ask every citizen of this great Nation to listen to the sound of silence caused by a generation lost to us, and then to raise their voices for all affected by abortion, both seen and unseen," the president said.
Since President Biden took office, the Trump statement announcing National Sanctity of Life Day was removed from the White House website.