▶ Watch Video: Leaked SCOTUS draft opinion appears to overturn Roe v. Wade

Washington — President Biden on Tuesday defended the constitutional right to an abortion established by the Supreme Court’s landmark 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade, and stressed that “basic fairness and the stability of our law demand” the high court leave its nearly 50-year-old decision intact.

The statement by the president came in response to a draft majority opinion from the Supreme Court in a blockbuster abortion case that was obtained and published by Politico late Monday. The initial draft from February, written by Justice Samuel Alito, indicated that a majority of the high court appears ready to overturn Roe. Supreme Court spokeswoman Patricia McCabe said Monday night the court did not have a comment on the Politico report.

“I believe that a woman’s right to choose is fundamental, Roe has been the law of the land for almost fifty years, and basic fairness and the stability of our law demand that it not be overturned,” Mr. Biden said in his statement.

The president also reiterated that during oral arguments in December for the case before the Supreme Court, which involves a Mississippi law banning abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy, his administration argued for the court not to overturn Roe.

Mr. Biden stressed that it’s unknown “whether this draft is genuine, or whether it reflects the final decision of the court,” as it’s possible for the justices to change their votes before a decision is handed down, likely before the end of the court’s term in late June or early July in this dispute. Still, he said that a possible decision striking down Roe shifts the onus to protect abortion rights to elected officials.

“If the court does overturn Roe, it will fall on our nation’s elected officials at all levels of government to protect a woman’s right to choose. And it will fall on voters to elect pro-choice officials this November,” he said. “At the federal level, we will need more pro-choice Senators and a pro-choice majority in the House to adopt legislation that codifies Roe, which I will work to pass and sign into law.”

Democrats are working to maintain their control of the House and Senate in the November midterm elections.

The House last year passed a proposal to protect abortion access nationwide, but the measure failed to advance in the evenly-divided Senate, where 60 votes are needed to overcome a filibuster and move to final passage. Instead, the Senate fell far short of meeting the 60-vote threshold with its 46 to 48 vote in February.

The leaked draft opinion prompted some Democrats to push for a change to Senate rules to end the filibuster to pass legislation protecting abortion rights, though Mr. Biden stopped short of endorsing such a step in his statement.

More about: