Supporting Roe Means Supporting Abortion until Birth

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Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris arrive to speak in Phoenix, Ariz., October 8, 2020. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

Facebook has banned the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List from sharing two of its ads about Joe Biden and Kamala Harris’s support for late-term abortion. Facebook says its decision to prevent the group from posting the ads came after the content ran afoul of a fact-check published in The Dispatch.

That fact-check offers several reasons why it’s supposedly incorrect and “missing context” to describe the Biden-Harris ticket as supporting abortion “up to the moment of birth.” Among evidence it provides: “Biden has not expressed support for late-term abortions”and “neither candidate has voiced for support for abortion ‘up to the moment of birth.’”

But, of course, neither candidate must explicitly state, “I support abortion up to the moment of birth” for us to acknowledge that the Biden-Harris ticket’s policies are effectively endorsing that stance. Let’s review the evidence.

Both Biden and Harris support what they call “codifying” Roe v. Wade. This is a somewhat vague proposition, but it means they’d like to see the current status quo on abortion policy, set in motion by Roe, instantiated at the national level via legislation. They also have said they will nominate only judges who promise to uphold Roe and subsequent jurisprudence protecting legal abortion.

For these reasons alone, it’s entirely fair to say that Biden and Harris support abortion until birth. Under the terms set by Roe and its companion case Doe v. Bolton — reaffirmed and reshaped in Planned Parenthood v. Casey — each and every state law that regulates abortion in any way, if allowed to stand at all, must contain a maternal-health exception.

Importantly, the Court’s majority in Doe defined maternal health this way: “all factors — physical, emotional, psychological, familial, and the woman’s age — relevant to the wellbeing of the patient.” In other words, Doe required any abortion restriction to include a gaping loophole, essentially permitting abortion on demand throughout pregnancy.

Meanwhile, we have little reason to believe that either Biden or Harris plans to champion or even permit abortion restrictions of any kind if elected. Neither has been asked for his or her view of specific abortion-related policies such as the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act or the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act — but Harris has voted against both.

In the Senate two decades ago Biden supported the federal ban on partial-birth abortion, but he has yet to be asked whether he stands by that vote. (It is difficult to imagine that his party would let him get away with saying yes; perhaps that’s why he hasn’t been asked.) Meanwhile, he has continued shifting to the left on the issue: Last summer, he reversed his decades’ long opposition to federally funded abortion and now supports taxpayer funding of elective abortion through Medicaid.

His running mate has sponsored the most aggressively pro-abortion piece of federal legislation ever introduced, the Women’s Health Protection Act, which would invalidate state restrictions on abortion in the last three months of pregnancy, well after fetal viability. While running for president, Harris promised to institute a regime of “preclearance” in which her Justice Department would challenge and eliminate any state policy that it finds in violation of Roe. Biden has not been asked whether he supports such an idea, and Harris has not been asked whether she intends to push for it as Biden’s vice president.

In short, while it’s true that neither Biden nor Harris has, to my knowledge, explicitly said the words, “I support abortion until birth,” the effects of the policies they embrace are very clearly in line with that sentiment. It requires a great deal of willful blindness to believe that Biden — who has moved steadily toward the radical wing of his party on this issue and who has chosen as his running mate the most pro-abortion politician ever to appear on a presidential ticket — will lift a finger to stop Democrats from entrenching and expanding our present regime of unlimited elective abortion.

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