Biden Says He’s ‘Not Big On Abortion’ Since He's Catholic, But Roe ‘Got It Right’

Abortion rights activists were unhappy with the president’s comments, as millions of people are being denied access to abortion care in nearly half the country.
U.S. President Joe Biden speaks during a joint press conference with India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi, June 22, 2023.
U.S. President Joe Biden speaks during a joint press conference with India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi, June 22, 2023.

At a fundraiser Tuesday evening, US President Joe Biden reiterated that he does not have strong personal beliefs in favour of abortion, an issue on which he comments relatively rarely.

“I’m a practicing Catholic. I’m not big on abortion,” Biden said during the event in Maryland, first reported by The Hill. “But guess what? Roe v Wade got it right.”

He reportedly criticised states that have enacted abortion bans since the Supreme Court repealed Roe last June. Nearly 20 states have passed extreme abortion restrictions or bans since the Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organisation ruling ― creating a crisis of care for millions of women and people with the capacity for pregnancy in the US, and not just in the states where the service is now all but inaccessible.

Advocates for abortion rights have repeatedly knocked the president for not being more aggressive on the issue, given that nearly half the country has effectively criminalised abortion care. His remarks on Tuesday brought a fresh round of criticism.

“I don’t understand why he cannot show the same love and support and care for people in this country who have abortions as he does for any other issue where people are impacted,” said Renee Bracey Sherman, founder and executive director of We Testify, an abortion storytelling organisation.

“Why is it that people who win championships for sports get shown more love and have more invitations to the White House to meet with him than people who have abortions who are living through a human rights crisis?” she added.

Biden, who is only the second Catholic president in US history, has consistently taken a lukewarm approach to abortion rights, often delegating major speeches to Vice President Kamala Harris. Biden himself didn’t say the word “abortion” as president until the leak of the Dobbs decision last May.

Jamie Manson, president of Catholics for Choice, told HuffPost that while she’s grateful for Biden’s defence of Roe, his comments don’t sit right with her.

“President Biden also supports same-sex marriage. The Catholic Church is fundamentally opposed to same-sex marriage because they ‘cannot bless a sin,’ which is a direct quote from Pope Francis,” Manson said.

“I’ve never heard President Biden say, ‘As a Catholic, I cannot support same-sex marriage.’ He never makes that same connection,” she noted. “So, it’s interesting to me that he will say that his Catholicism prevents him from supporting one issue, but not another issue that the Catholic Church is also opposed to.”

More than half of Americans who identify as Catholic believe that abortion should be legal in all or most cases, according to a 2020 Pew research study, and one in four abortion patients in the US identify as Catholic.

Manson worries that Biden’s comments serve to reinforce stigma around abortion care, especially to Catholic people who have gotten or will get abortions.

“By President Biden restating that his Catholicism prevents him from being fully supportive of abortion, it reinforces a right-wing narrative that is spiritually violent, ultimately, in the way that it stigmatises women and other people who have been pregnant for choosing this care,” she said.

Less than a week ago, three of the largest national pro-choice organisations ― NARAL Pro-Choice America, Planned Parenthood Federation of America and EMILY’s List ― endorsed Biden and Harris for reelection in 2024.

“The record of the Biden-Harris administration speaks for itself,” Ryan Stitzlein, NARAL’s vice president of political and government relations, said after Biden’s remarks at the Maryland event.

“Amid unprecedented attacks on abortion rights and access, President Biden has championed reproductive freedom,” Stitzlein said. “As the president said, everybody should have the freedom to make their own decisions about their lives and futures without political interference.”

Planned Parenthood declined to comment for this story. EMILY’s List did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s request for comment.


What's Hot