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Joe Biden describes Supreme Court abortion decision as ‘destabilising’

US President Joe Biden (AP)
US President Joe Biden (AP)

President Joe Biden had said the Supreme Court’s decision ending a constitutional right to abortion is “destabilising” but said it does not affect US standing on the world stage.

Mr Biden was speaking to reporters at the conclusion of a five-day foreign trip which involved summits with Nato allies in Madrid and the leaders of the G7 nations in the Bavarian Alps.

The trip came as the nation was still grappling with the fallout from Friday’s Supreme Court decision.

“America is better positioned to lead the world than we ever have been,” Mr Biden said. “But one thing that has been destabilising is the outrageous behaviour of the Supreme Court of United States in overruling not only Roe v Wade, but essentially challenging the right to privacy.”

Protesters participate in a vigil for reproductive freedom and abortion rights outside the US Supreme Court
Protesters participate in a vigil for reproductive freedom and abortion rights outside the US Supreme Court (AP)

He added: “I could understand why the American people are frustrated because of what the Supreme Court did.”

Mr Biden said that he would support eliminating the Senate filibuster to protect access to abortion after the US Supreme Court overturned Roe v Wade.

“If the filibuster gets in the way, it’s like voting rights,” Mr Biden said.

The Democratic president said there should be an “exception to the filibuster for this action to deal with the Supreme Court decision”.

As a former senator, Mr Biden has been reluctant to support changes to the filibuster, which allows any member of the 100-member chamber to block action on legislation unless it receives 60 votes.

However, earlier this year he endorsed sidestepping the rule on the issue of voting rights, and his latest comments make clear that he is willing to do the same for abortion.

Mr Biden’s support for changes to the filibuster in the 50-50 Senate may ultimately be immaterial. The Senate Democratic caucus would need to unanimously take such a step, but at least two Democratic senators do not want to.

The President has been under pressure to take as much executive action as possible to protect abortion rights, although his options are limited. Mr Biden said he is meeting governors on Friday to talk about abortion and added: “I’ll have announcements to make then.”

The trip abroad included the Biden administration announcing plans to permanently bolster the US military presence in Europe, an agreement between Turkey, Finland and Sweden to pave the way for the accession of the Nordic nations into Nato, and the alliance updating its strategic concept to reflect that China’s “coercive policies” are a challenge the western bloc’s interests.

“I think we can all agree that this has been a historic Nato summit,” Mr Biden said.

Mr Biden noted the last time Nato updated its strategic concept 12 years ago, Russia was characterised as a partner, and the document did not even mention China. The new document hammered out at the summit changes that.

“The world has changed, changed a great deal since then,” Mr Biden said. “This summit was about strengthening our alliances, meeting the challenges of our world as it is today, and the threats we’re going to face in the future.”