“Think about what these guys are talking about,” the president said at a Democratic National Committee fundraiser in New York earlier this week as the issue around abortion looks set to motivate voters ahead of the midterms in November.
“No exceptions, rape, incest, no exceptions, regardless of age,” Mr Biden added, according toThe Washington Post. “I happen to be a practising Roman Catholic. My church doesn’t even make that argument now.”
By “these guys”, Mr Biden appeared to be referring to Republican lawmakers including Mr Graham, who earlier this month put forward a bill which would prohibit abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy across the US.
But, unlike in the comments made by Mr Biden, Mr Graham said exceptions could be allowed “in cases of rape, incest or to save the life of the mother”.
The Catholic Church’s policy on abortion is that life starts at conception and that the procedure should be banned. But surgery to save a mother’s life is allowed even in cases where that means the fetus will not live.
While Pope Francis has said that abortion is “murder,” he has also told US bishops to not get involved in politics.
“Abortion is not banned in America. It is left up to elected officials in America to define the issue,” Mr Graham said last week. “States have the ability to do [so] at the state level, and we have the ability in Washington to speak on this issue if we choose. I have chosen to speak.”
Last month, Mr Graham told the press that “states should decide the issue of abortion,” but he has now changed tack, arguing that abortion “is not a states’ rights issue”.
The South Carolina Republican took to Fox News on Thursday to say: “We’re a national party. Here’s my position on the border. Here’s my position on crime. Here’s my position on inflation. … We owe it to the American people to tell them who we are, and here’s who we are as a national party”.
“They’re trying to marginalize me. Now, I’m a pro-life guy, always have been,” he added. “I guess here’s what I’m saying to the pro-life movement – Stand up for the baby in a reasonable way, they need you now.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) responds to Republicans criticizing him for proposing a nationwide 15-week abortion ban right before an election:
“We owe it to the American people to tell them who we are, and here’s who we are as a national party.” pic.twitter.com/wqyl4PsYZO
— The Recount (@therecount) September 22, 2022
Other members of the GOP has boosted anti-abortion laws without exceptions on the state level.
In July, the Poynter Institute, a nonprofit, said that 15 of 22 states with new or upcoming laws restricting access to reproductive healthcare don’t allow exceptions for incest or rape.
Mr Biden is only the second Catholic president in US history, the first being John F Kennedy. Mr Biden’s public stances on abortion have shifted over the years, but he’s now openly supportive of abortion rights and some US bishops have refused to offer him Communion and have also appeared sceptical of his faith.
Mr Biden said last year that he was told by the Pope that he’s a “good Catholic” and while Francis has stated that Mr Biden’s opinion is incoherent, he has also said he would leave it to Mr Biden’s “conscience,” according to The Post.
Mr Graham’s proposal has in essence no ability to get through Congress while it’s controlled by the Democrats.
Mr Biden said that Mr Graham and those supporting similar measures want to “make sure that Roe is forever gone and Dobbs becomes the national law”.
It was the ruling in the case Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization that overturned Roe.
“Well, the good news is, for me, anyway, I’m going to be around at least for another two years. … I’m going to veto it. It’s not going to happen,” Mr Biden said, prompting applause from the room, The Washington Post reported.