Biden calls Supreme Court abortion ruling 'a very solemn moment'; what he and others are saying

Immediately after the Supreme Court's ruling on Friday to overturn Roe v. Wade, current and former lawmakers reacted to the end of Americans' constitutional right to an abortion.

The decision had been anticipated since the Supreme Court took the Mississippi case Dobbs v. Jackson this year. A leak of the decision last month showed a 6-3 decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.

A 6-3 majority Friday upheld a Mississippi ban on most abortions after 15 weeks; five justices voted to overturn Roe v. Wade, because Chief Justice John Roberts wrote he would not have gone so far as to upend one of the court's most recognized precedents.

The ruling: Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, eliminating constitutional right to abortion

More: Where the abortion fight goes from here: Roe overruled but the battle will continue

Here's what lawmakers are saying about the decision:

"The health and life of women in this nation are now at risk,” President Joe Biden said in a speech Friday afternoon after the Supreme Court's ruling.
"The health and life of women in this nation are now at risk,” President Joe Biden said in a speech Friday afternoon after the Supreme Court's ruling.

Surgeon general: `Major step backward for public health’

Surgeon General Vivek Murthy on Friday called the Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade a “a major step backward for public health.”

When reproductive health decisions are restricted, the number of unplanned pregnancies and unsafe abortions rises, Murthy said.

“Health care providers, who are already under extraordinary strains due to the pandemic, will be forced into an impossible choice between doing what's right for their patients and complying with laws that are at odds with their patient's health interest,” he continued.

Murthy said equitable access to reproductive health services is a “cornerstone for health.”

-- Maureen Groppe   

Harris calls Roe v. Wade decision a “health care crisis”

The Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade has thrown the nation into a “health care crisis,” Vice President Kamala Harris said Friday.

“Millions of women will go to bed tonight without access to the health care and reproductive care that they had this morning, without access to the same health care or reproductive health care that their mothers and grandmothers had for 50 years,” Harris said at a YMCA in Illinois.

Harris had been scheduled to meet Friday with maternal health care providers and then promote what the Biden administration is doing to improve care for pregnant women and mothers. But after learning of the high court’s decision on the flight to Illinois, she changed her schedule.

From a YMCA classroom, Harris privately watched President Joe Biden’s midday remarks on the ruling before delivering her own public comments several hours later.

More: Where the abortion fight goes from here: Roe overruled, but the battle will continue

“For nearly 50 years, we have talked about what Roe v. Wade protects,” Harris said. “Today, as of right now, as of this minute, we can only talk about what Roe v. Wade protected. Past tense.”

Harris has been meeting for weeks with outside groups and is expected to play a significant role in the administration’s response to the ruling, although Biden’s options are limited.

As Biden did, Harris stressed that those who object to the decision need to make their voices heard at the ballot box.

“You have the power to elect leaders who will defend and protect your rights,” she said. “With your vote, you can act. And you have the final word. So this is not over.”

-- Maureen Groppe

What does overturning Roe mean?: What we know about the Supreme Court's abortion ruling.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: 'People will die because of this decision'

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., said Friday's ruling will not make abortions go away but will only make abortions more dangerous for people, “especially for the poor and marginalized.”

Ocasio-Cortez protested alongside hundreds of demonstrators in front of the Supreme Court after the ruling.

– Katherine Swartz

Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez speaks to abortion rights supporters in Washington after the Supreme Court's decision Friday.
Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez speaks to abortion rights supporters in Washington after the Supreme Court's decision Friday.

Sen. Warren: Expand the Supreme Court to protect Roe

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., spoke out against what she called “extremists” that “cultivated far-right judges and spent billions in dark money” toward overturning Roe v. Wade.

In a video, Warren called for Democrats to elect pro-choice candidates who would overturn the filibuster in the Senate, which she called “a relic developed by racist politicians to defend Jim Crow.”

Warren also pushed for senators to expand the Supreme Court, an idea she said is “not new or radical.”

“The level of control that the Republican Party wants over individual Americans is undemocratic, and frankly, it is downright creepy,” Warren said.

– Katherine Swartz

More: 'No plans to bring it to the floor': Pelosi shoots down Democratic effort to expand Supreme Court

McConnell: Dobbs ruling ‘courageous and correct’

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell praised the U.S. Supreme Court’s 6-3 decision, saying it represents a half century of struggle by conservatives.

“The Supreme Court’s landmark ruling in Dobbs is courageous and correct,” he said. “This is an historic victory for the Constitution and for the most vulnerable in our society.”

During Donald Trump's single term as president, McConnell was pivotal in reshaping the judiciary. He shepherded dozens of conservative judges onto the bench, including three high court nominees Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett that tilted the Supreme Court to its current conservative majority.

In May, the GOP leader acknowledged in an exclusive interview with USA TODAY that a national abortion ban is “possible” in Congress.

 Phillip M. Bailey

More: McConnell calls US abortion ban 'possible,' says he won't change filibuster to pass it

Donald Trump praises the end of Roe v. Wade

Former President Donald Trump, who nominated three members of the Supreme Court majority that struck down Roe v. Wade, praised the decision that ended the constitutional right to an abortion.

In an interview with Fox News Digital, Trump said the decision reestablishes the rights of states to restrict or ban abortions.

"This brings everything back to the states where it has always belonged," Trump said.

Trump also said the decision "is following the Constitution, and giving rights back when they should have been given long ago."

As for supporters who favor abortion rights, Trump told "I think, in the end, this is something that will work out for everybody."

David Jackson

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves celebrates SCOTUS ruling

The fall of Roe v. Wade began in Mississippi at Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which challenged the state’s Gestational Age Law of 2018.

“I applaud the Supreme Court Justices for their courage in issuing this well-reasoned decision. It took bravery to stick to the courage of their convictions, especially amidst an unprecedented leak that was aimed at threatening the integrity of the Court, an assassination attempt, riot threats, and attacks on churches and pregnancy centers,” Tate said in a statement.

Echoing statements from other Republican governors today, Tate emphasized that his state would continue to “build a culture that supports mothers and children” through financial and supportive services.

– Katherine Swartz, Wicker Perlis

More: The Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade is only the beginning for anti-abortion advocates

President Biden says women’s health will be in danger

President Joe Biden said Friday that the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade puts women in danger in America.

“Now with Roe gone, let’s be very clear. The health and life of women in this nation are now at risk,” Biden said in a speech Friday afternoon.

– Francesca Chambers

More: Biden calls SCOTUS abortion ruling 'a very solemn moment'; what he and others are saying

Sen. Susan Collins said ruling ‘inconsistent’ with justices’ Senate testimony

Sen. Susan Collins, a moderate Republican from Maine who cast a decisive vote in nominating the justices who gave the Supreme Court a conservative majority, said Friday's decision is “inconsistent” with what justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh said in their Senate confirmation hearings.

“This decision is inconsistent with what Justices Gorsuch and Kavanaugh said in their testimony and their meetings with me, where they both were insistent on the importance of supporting long-standing precedents that the country has relied upon,” she said in a statement Friday.

“Throwing out a precedent overnight that the country has relied upon for half a century is not conservative,” she said. “It is a sudden and radical jolt to the country that will lead to political chaos, anger, and a further loss of confidence in our government.”

Candy Woodall

Sen. Bernie Sanders calls on Senate to codify Roe v. Wade

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., tweeted Friday that overturning Roe v. Wade is “an outrage and in defiance of what the American people want.”

He called on Democrats to end the filibuster in the Senate so Congress can codify Roe v. Wade.

– Katherine Swartz 

More: Roe v. Wade is overturned, here's what abortion laws look like in each state

Attorney General Garland: Justice Department 'strongly disagrees' with Supreme Court’s decision

Attorney General Merrick Garland said the Supreme Court renounced a fundamental right it has “repeatedly recognized and reaffirmed.”

“It will have an immediate and irreversible impact on the lives of people across the country. And it will be greatly disproportionate in its effect – with the greatest burdens felt by people of color and those of limited financial means,” Garland said.

– Katherine Swartz 

More: What does overturning Roe mean? What we know about the Supreme Court's abortion ruling.

Rep. Jim Jordan addresses ruling on House floor

As the House of Representatives prepared to vote on bipartisan gun safety legislation, members of Congress took to the floor to speak on the high court's ruling.

Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, said overturning Roe v. Wade is “a win for the Constitution and a win for the sanctity of life.”

– Katherine Swartz 

Poll: Furor over Roe v. Wade reversal likely won't rescue Democrats in midterm elections

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene called the ruling an 'answer to prayer'

Speaking to reporters outside the Capitol, Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., called the Supreme Court’s ruling Friday an “answer to prayer” and said “we’re going to protect life.”

 Katherine Swartz 

Gov. Greg Abbott touts Texas investment in abortion alternatives

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott applauded the Supreme Court’s decision and emphasized the millions of dollars he has allocated toward supporting "women’s health care and expectant mothers.”

Texas has some of the most restrictive abortion laws in the nation, cutting off the procedure after a heartbeat is detected. That is typically in the sixth week of pregnancy, before many know they’re pregnant.

– Katherine Swartz 

More:The Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade is only the beginning for anti-abortion advocates

Sen. Majority Leader Schumer calls SCOTUS 'extreme MAGA court'

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said Friday's ruling is the result of electing Republican supporters of former President Donald Trump.

“Today is one of the darkest days our country has ever seen,” he said.

“Millions upon millions of American women are having their rights taken from them by five unelected Justices on the extremist MAGA court.”

He said the decision makes “crystal clear the contrast as we approach the November elections.”

– Candy Woodall

Sen. Joe Manchin said he would vote to codify Roe

Moderate Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin said he is “deeply disappointed” by the Supreme Court's decision.

Though the senator from West Virginia says he is pro-life, he said he understands his definition of life may be different from someone else’s.

Manchin said he would support legislation that codifies the rights Roe v. Wade had protected.

Candy Woodall

More: Supreme Court ruling triggers maze of state abortion laws

Speaker Nancy Pelosi says Democrats will fight ‘ferociously’ to enshrine Roe

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade is “outrageous and heart-wrenching” and vowed to fight it in Congress and at the ballot box.

The ruling is the result of the GOP’s “dark and extreme goal of ripping away women’s right to make their own reproductive health decisions,” she said.

“Because of Donald Trump, Mitch McConnell, the Republican Party and their supermajority on the Supreme Court, American women today have less freedom than their mothers,” Pelosi said.

During her weekly news conference, shortly after the court's decision, she warned that Republicans in Congress want a nationwide ban. She indicated the only way to stop that was to keep the GOP from gaining a majority in the midterm elections.

“A woman’s right to choose is on the ballot in November,” Pelosi said.

– Candy Woodall

Congress: Seven members of Congress, seven personal stories of abortion as Roe v. Wade hangs in balance

Hillary Clinton: Opinion 'Will live in infamy'

Former first lady and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton tweeted that the Supreme Court’s decision “will live in infamy” as a step backward for women’s rights.

"Most Americans believe the decision to have a child is one of the most sacred decisions there is, and that such decisions should remain between patients and their doctors," she wrote.

Clinton also called on the public to support and donate to Democratic candidates, to protect reproductive rights by winning elections “at every level.”

– Katherine Swartz 

Former Vice President Mike Pence

Former Vice President Mike Pence, who is contemplating his own presidential run in 2024, issued a statement within minutes of the ruling and called for ending abortion in all 50 states.

Praising the Supreme Court for returning the issue to the states, Pence said: ”Having been given this second chance for life, we must not rest and must not relent until the sanctity of life is restored to the center of American law in every state in the land.”

He did not offer specific proposals.

Pence rose to political prominence as a social conservative who emphasized abortion. He won elections to the U.S. House, the governor's mansion in Indiana and the vice presidency.

In his statement, Pence said: "It is incumbent on all who cherish the sanctity of life to resolve that we will take the defense of the unborn and the support for women in crisis pregnancy centers to every state in America."

-- David Jackson

Sen. Bob Casey, a Catholic Democrat, slams high court's ruling

Sen. Bob Casey, a longstanding Catholic Democrat who has supported anti-abortion causes, condemned the Supreme Court ruling.

“Today’s decision upends almost a half century of legal precedent and rips away a constitutional right that generations of women have known their entire lives,” he said in a statement. “This dangerous ruling won’t end abortions in this country, but it will put women’s lives at risk.”

Casey predicted that this is the beginning of a series of efforts to end abortion rights in the U.S.

“And make no mistake – this is not the end goal, it’s just the beginning. Republicans in Congress want to pass federal legislation to completely ban abortion. Our daughters and granddaughters should not grow up with fewer rights than their mothers.”

– Candy Woodall

Former President Barack Obama: Protest, volunteer, continue to act

Only minutes after the ruling was announced, former President Barack Obama released a statement on Twitter:

"Today, the Supreme Court not only reversed nearly 50 years of precedent, it relegated the most intensely personal decision someone can make to the whims of politicians and ideologues attacking the essential freedoms of millions of Americans," he wrote.

Obama also linked a longer statement that he and former first lady Michelle Obama wrote when the draft decision was leaked.

In his earlier statement and tweets, Obama called on Americans upset over the decision to  "join with activists who've been sounding the alarm on abortion access for years and react."

– Katherine Swartz

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: SCOTUS Roe v Wade decision: Biden, Obama, Pence, others react