President Joe Biden escalated his attacks on Republicans over abortion rights in a speech to Democratic activists late Thursday, addressing the specifics of what he contends his opponents want: an expansion of abortion bans before many women know they’re pregnant, and an attempt to to pass a national ban, which he pledged to veto.
Leaning into the Supreme Court’s overturning of abortion rights this summer, the president suggested there would be a surge of voter activity in the fall midterm elections pushing back against the high court’s decision. Biden reiterated that abortion could be just the start of Republican attempts to dial back rights, including contraception and same-sex marriage.
“Republicans don’t have a clue about the power of women,” Biden told the gathering of Democratic Party committee members at their meeting in suburban Maryland. “Let me tell you something: They’re about to find out.”
Already, the abortion issue in special elections has led to a burst of women registering to vote and to an elevated turnout, according to election analysts. Democrats are counting on backlash to the Dobbs decision — which overturned Roe v. Wade — to counter the headwinds caused by high inflation and a sour national mood.
Biden’s remarks about abortion came as he works through refining a midterm stump speech full of increasingly sharp-edged digs at the GOP. At one point on Thursday, he briefly mocked a Republican lawmaker who voted against his policies on everything from health care to infrastructure projects — including roads and bridges — only to return home and tout to voters the fruits of Democrats’ labor.
“I see them out there: ‘And now we’re going to build this new bridge here. We’re all for it. And by the way, this new road’ …” Biden teased. “I love ’em, man. They ain’t got no shame.”
However, he also continued to draw a distinction between “extreme MAGA Republicans,” who he said “embrace political violence,” and moderate Republicans he has labeled as mainstream.
“There’s still a few of them left,” Biden said of the latter group.
Turning to abortion, Biden said that in 14 states the procedure is unavailable after six weeks of pregnancy —in some places with no exceptions for rape and incest. Another 13 states could soon follow suit, the president warned.
“In just weeks and months, more than half of America will have banned abortion if we don’t win in this off-year election. And they’re not going to stop there,” he said, suggesting Republicans would try to pass a national ban if they controlled both the House and Senate.
Some Republicans, including former Vice President Mike Pence, have pushed for such a ban.
“If they had their way, they’d come after contraception and marriage equality, the whole right to privacy. … We can’t let that happen, either,” Biden said. “Democrats won’t let that happen.”