Biden predicts states will try to arrest women who travel for abortions

US president says federal government will act to protect women who need to cross state lines to get abortions

US President Joe Biden arrives to convene a virtual meeting with state governors to discuss efforts to protect access to reproductive health care. EPA
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President Joe Biden predicted on Friday that some US states will try to arrest women for crossing state lines to get abortions after the Supreme Court overturned the constitutional right to the procedure nationwide.

Thirteen Republican-led states banned or severely restricted the procedure under so-called trigger laws after the court struck down the 1973 Roe v Wade ruling last week. Women in those states seeking an abortion may have to travel to states where it remains legal.

Convening a virtual meeting on abortion rights with Democratic state governors on Friday, Mr Biden said he thinks “people are going to be shocked when the first state … tries to arrest a woman for crossing a state line to get health services”.

He added: “And I don't think people believe that's going to happen. But it's going to happen and it's going to telegraph to the whole country that this is a gigantic deal that goes beyond; I mean, it affects all your basic rights”.

Mr Biden said the federal government will act to protect women who need to cross state lines to get an abortion and ensure their access to medication in states where it is banned.

New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham told the meeting her state “will not co-operate” on any attempts to track down women who have had abortions to punish them.

“We will not extradite,” she said.

Abortion rights groups have filed legislation in several states seeking to preserve the ability of women to terminate pregnancies.

Judges in Florida, Louisiana, Texas and Utah have since issued decisions preventing those states from enforcing new restrictive abortion laws, while Ohio's top court on Friday declined to block the Republican-led state from enforcing an abortion ban.

New York Governor Kathy Hochul told the group that “just a handful of states” are going to have to take care of health of women across the country.

“There is such stress out there,” Ms Hochul said. “It is a matter of life and death for American women.”

Mr Biden also told the group there were not enough votes in the Senate to scrap a supermajority rule known as the filibuster to codify Roe v Wade's protections.

He had proposed that senators remove the filibuster but the suggestion was shot down by aides to key Democrats.

“The filibuster should not stand in the way of us being able to [codify Roe],” Mr Biden said.

Updated: July 01, 2022, 7:45 PM