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State of the Union: Biden Pledges to Restore Roe as 'The Law of the Land'

  • Michael Foust Crosswalk Headlines Contributor
  • Updated Mar 08, 2024
State of the Union: Biden Pledges to Restore <em>Roe</em> as 'The Law of the Land'

President Biden pledged during his State of the Union speech Thursday to stand for legalized abortion as he asked Americans to send him a Democratic-controlled Congress that would restore the rights guaranteed under Roe v. Wade nationwide.

Biden also addressed the border crisis, health care and the wars in Ukraine and Gaza during a speech that spanned about 65 minutes and drew a partisan response. Although he didn’t mention his likely GOP opponent Donald Trump by name, Biden used the phrase “my predecessor” more than a dozen times.

Abortion was a major theme, spanning four minutes on a subject that -- in most State of the Union speeches from presidents of both parties -- usually gets only a passing mention. Biden and his allies believe it can be a winning issue this fall in light of the Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe that sent the cultural battle over abortion back to the states.

With the justices sitting on the first two rows, Biden labeled the pro-life strategy an “assault on freedom.”

He began by discussing in vitro fertilization (IVF) and the Alabama Supreme Court’s ruling that declared embryos created through IVF can be treated as children under state law. That led to several clinics around the state shutting down their IVF practices. (Alabama’s Republican governor this week signed a bill protecting IVF in the state).

The Alabama court’s decision, Biden asserted, would not have been issued had the U.S. Supreme Court not overturned Roe.

“Joining us tonight is Latorya Beasley, a social worker from Birmingham, Ala. Fourteen months ago, she and her husband welcomed a baby girl thanks to the miracle of IVF. She scheduled treatments to have that second child, but the Alabama Supreme Court shut down IVF treatments across the state, unleashed by the Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade. She was told her dream would have to wait. What her family got through should never have happened. And unless Congress acts, it could happen again.”

“So tonight, let’s stand up for families like hers. To my friends across the aisle, don’t keep this waiting any longer. Guarantee the right to IVF.”

Biden then turned to the issue of abortion.

“Like most Americans, I believe Roe v. Wade got it right. I thank Vice President Harris for being an incredible leader, defending reproductive freedom and so much more,” he said. “But my predecessor came to office determined to see Roe v. Wade overturned. He’s the reason it was overturned -- and he brags about it. Look at the chaos that has resulted.”

Biden pointed to the balcony, where Texas resident Kate Cox was sitting. Her case sparked a nationwide debate when she said she had to leave her state to have an abortion. Her unborn baby was diagnosed with Trisomy 18.

“Many of you in this chamber and my predecessor are promising to pass a national ban on reproductive freedom,” Biden said. “...Clearly, those bragging about overturning Roe v. Wade have no clue about the power of women.”

He predicted Democrats will “win again in 2024.”

“If you, the American people, send me a Congress that supports the right to choose, I promise you, I will restore Roe v. Wade as the law of the land again,” he said. “America cannot go back. I am here tonight to show the way forward. Because I know how far we’ve come.”

In the Republican response, U.S. Sen. Katie Britt (Ala.) said Republicans “strongly support continued nationwide access to in vitro fertilization.”

“We want to help loving moms and dads bring precious life into this world,” she said.

Lila Rose, founder of the pro-life organization Live Action, said Biden got the facts wrong on abortion and on Cox.

“Kate Cox demanded a late term abortion of her disabled baby girl, and she left Texas to ensure her daughter’s death,” Rose said. “...Biden could have invited a girl like 15-year-old Bella Santorum -- who has the exact same condition as Kate Cox’s baby -- to show the beauty and potential of every life. But no, he chose to invite Cox, who murdered her preborn little girl at 20+ weeks & pretends to be the victim.”

Image credit: ©Getty Images / Chip SomodevillaStaff

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.