Biden Condemns Arizona’s Abortion Ban as ‘Cruel’ and ‘Extreme’

President Biden condemned a decision by Arizona’s Supreme Court on Tuesday to uphold an 1864 ban on nearly all abortions as “cruel” and “extreme,” saying the law was first enacted well before women even had the right to vote.

In a statement released within an hour of the decision, Mr. Biden called the ruling an “extreme agenda of Republican elected officials” and promised to continue the fight for reproductive rights and a restoration of Roe v. Wade, which had protected the right of women to have abortions for nearly a half century.

“Millions of Arizonans will soon live under an even more extreme and dangerous abortion ban, which fails to protect women even when their health is at risk or in tragic cases of rape or incest,” Mr. Biden said. “This cruel ban was first enacted in 1864 — more than 150 years ago, before Arizona was even a state and well before women had secured the right to vote. This ruling is a result of the extreme agenda of Republican elected officials who are committed to ripping away women’s freedom.”

The decision in Arizona, a critical battleground state, comes as Mr. Biden’s campaign and Democratic officials blame the dwindling access to abortion care in America squarely on former President Donald J. Trump.

The issue has been central in several recent Democratic election victories.

Mr. Trump on Monday released a video saying that abortion rights should be left to the states. The former president, whose conservative appointees to the Supreme Court helped overturn Roe in 2022, had for months refused to say whether he supported restrictive measures on abortion like those outlined in the 160-year-old law that Arizona’s highest court said on Tuesday “is now enforceable.”

The overturning of Roe “paved the way for the chaos and confusion we’re seeing play out across the country today,” Karine Jean-Pierre, the White House press secretary, told reporters on Tuesday.

“There are now 21 extreme state abortion bans in effect across the country,” Ms. Jean-Pierre said. “One-third of all women of reproductive age now live in a state with an abortion ban.”

The White House also said Vice President Kamala Harris would visit Arizona on Friday to highlight “extremists” in the state who were pushing for abortion bans.

During a trip there last month, Ms. Harris criticized Mr. Trump’s role in the spread of state-level abortion restrictions.

“The former president, Donald Trump, handpicked three members of the United States Supreme Court because he intended for them to overturn Roe,” Ms. Harris said last month. “He intended for them to take your freedoms, and he brags about it.”

The Arizona law bans nearly all abortions, a decision that could have far-reaching consequences for women’s health care and election-year politics. Doctors prosecuted under the law could face fines and prison terms of two to five years.

Abortion was legal in Arizona through 15 weeks of pregnancy until Tuesday’s ruling.

Mr. Biden on Tuesday reaffirmed his support for a federal law that would restore abortion rights once protected by Roe v. Wade. But congressional action on abortion protections is unlikely.

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