The Corner

Politics & Policy

The Right to Choose What, Joe?

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden speaks during an event in Philadelphia, Pa., June 2, 2020. (Joshua Roberts/Reuters)

Joe Biden would like us to believe that Roe v. Wade is in peril. Nothing so energizes the abortion-advocacy wing of the Democratic Party (also known these days simply as the Democratic Party) like a press release or two gesticulating wildly about being the underdog.

In reality, of course, the U.S. proudly maintains one the most expansive legal-abortion regimes in the Western world, and it doesn’t appear to be crumpling anytime soon. But in a statement on the Supreme Court’s ruling this week in June Medical Services v. Russo, Biden insists that it is necessary to elect him president so as to stave off the allegedly imminent threat to Roe.

Never mind that June Medical offered the Court a golden opportunity merely to overturn Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt — the 2016 case in which the Court struck down a Texas law requiring abortionists to obtain admitting privileges at a local hospital — and it failed to do so. The Court, in other words, remains unwilling even to acknowledge that states have a right to require abortionists to follow the same regulations imposed on every other sort of medical provider.

But Biden would like us to believe that his presidency is the sole thing standing between American women and a vast hellscape of illegal, back-alley abortions. He’s come a long way for a guy who’s spent decades in politics plaintively calling himself “personally pro-life.”

“Women’s health care rights have been under attack as states across the country have passed extreme laws restricting women’s constitutional right to choice under any circumstance,” Biden’s statement on June Medical attests. What Biden fails to point out is that not a single one of these laws has been permitted to take effect. From Georgia to Missouri to Ohio and now to Louisiana, one court after another has enjoined or otherwise struck down these laws, because, after all, they violate Roe and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which prop up our judicially manufactured and enforced regime of abortion on demand.

But Biden would like us to believe that the very passage of these laws proves that abortion rights are in danger — and if we’d like to elect him, please, he’ll take care of it.

He offers plenty of obfuscations to digest in just a couple of paragraphs, but what is most intriguing about his statement is what it doesn’t say. As he laments the enactment of even the most modest safety regulations on abortion providers, and as he promises to “codify Roe v. Wade” — whatever that means — Biden fails to use the word “abortion” even a single time.

Of June Medical, Biden says that the Court has “reaffirmed that states cannot put in place laws that unduly burden a women’s right to make her own health care decisions with her doctor.” Of pro-life laws, he mutters, “restricting women’s constitutional right to choice under any circumstance.” Of his presidential administration, he avers, “My Justice Department will do everything in its power to stop the rash of state laws that so blatantly violate a woman’s protected, constitutional right to choose.”

But the right to choose what? Like every activist and politician who backs unlimited legal abortion, Biden benefits from two common myths: first, that the jurisprudence forcing legal abortion on the entire country is always on the brink of being entirely eliminated, and second, that phrases like “women’s health-care decisions” and the “constitutional right to choose” are euphemistic enough to avoid acknowledging that the choice in question involves killing a distinct, living human being.

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