President Joe Biden called the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling Friday a sad day for the country and urged voters to take action in November’s midterm elections to protect abortion rights.
“This is sad day for the country, in my view, but it doesn’t mean the fight is over,” the president said in remarks from the White House.
Biden said his administration would take actions to try to ease access to abortions, like defending women who want to travel to another state for an abortion and protecting access to contraception and abortion pills. But ultimately it rests with Congress and voters to protect abortion rights, he said.
“This decision must not be the final word. My administration will use all of its appropriate lawful powers, but Congress must act. With your vote, you can act, you can have the final word,” Biden said. “This is not over.”
The decision comes at a crucial moment for Biden and Democrats, who are hoping to use the ruling to energize their base to turn out in the midterm elections in November. But the issue risks being overshadowed politically by broader worries over the economy, which voters have listed as their top concern.
“This fall, Roe is on the ballot, personal freedoms are on the ballot, the right to privacy, liberty, equality, are all on the ballot,” Biden said.
The ruling is the second blow from the Supreme Court in two days for a major Democratic domestic policy priority. On Thursday, the Court struck down a New York law that required those seeking a permit to carry a concealed handgun in public to demonstrate they had special need to do so.
“This is an extreme and dangerous path the Court is now taking us on,” Biden said in remarks from the White House. He called the ruling “cruel” and said it would harm lower income women the most.
Biden said he was directing the Department of Health and Human Services to take steps to ensure these contraceptions and abortion pills “are available to the fullest extent possible.”
Biden is scheduled to head overseas Saturday for a week of meetings with world leaders in Europe focused on Ukraine, the global economy and China. But the domestic turmoil back home could overshadow some of his intended message from that trip.
There are limited actions Biden can take at the federal level on abortion, and codifying a women’s right to an abortion would have to be done by Congress. Still, Democrats have been urging him to take a range of steps that could provide some level of support to women.
“Make no mistake, this decision is a combination of a deliberate effort over decades to upset the balance of our law,” Biden said. “It’s a realization of an extreme ideology and a tragic error by the Supreme Court, in my view. The court has done what it has never done before, expressly take away a constitutional right.”
This story first appeared on NBCNews.com.