Biden’s message to Arizonans after abortion ruling: ‘Elect me’

April 10, 2024

President Biden encouraged residents of Arizona to vote for his reelection Wednesday in response to a state Supreme Court ruling that upheld an 1864 law and made performing abortion a felony. 

Biden at a press conference with the Japanese prime minister was asked what he would say to the people of Arizona in the aftermath of the ruling.

“Elect me. I’m in the 20th century — 21st century. Not back then,” the president said. “They weren’t even a state.”

The Arizona Supreme Court on Tuesday rejected arguments that it should uphold the current 15-week abortion ban signed in 2022 by then-Gov. Doug Ducey (R) and enforced after the end of Roe v. Wade. 

Instead, the court ruled that the Civil War-era law passed before Arizona was even a state should be enforced. The court ruled to lift a stay on the law, meaning it goes into effect in 14 days.  

However, the justices also sent the case back to a lower trial court to sort out questions about the law’s constitutionality. 

The century-old law makes abortion a felony punishable by two to five years in prison for anyone who performs or helps a woman obtain one. It includes an extremely narrow exception for “when it is necessary” to save a pregnant person’s life.  

Arizona Gov. Katie Hobbs (D) called for the 1864 ban to be repealed, and the state’s Democratic attorney general has said she will not enforce any bans on abortion.

Biden and his campaign have made abortion access a central pillar of his reelection effort, warning that former President Trump and Republican leaders pose a grave threat to reproductive health care after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June 2022.

Polling has shown abortion is one area where voters trust Biden more than Trump. A Wall Street Journal poll of swing state voters published last week found 45 percent of surveyed voters trust the incumbent more on the issue, compared with 33 percent who prefer the former president.

Trump, the presumptive GOP nominee, earlier this week declined to say whether he would support federal legislation banning abortion, instead insisting it should be left up to each state to determine abortion policy by vote or by legislation.

But Biden aides seized on the Arizona ruling to argue leaving abortion policy to the states meant arcane, restrictive bans that leave women across the country with little access to the procedure.

Trump said Wednesday that Arizona went too far with the ruling and predicted it would be “straightened out.”

“And as you know, it’s all about states’ rights. That will be straightened out,” he said. “And I’m sure that the governor and everybody else are going to bring it back into reason, and that will be taken care of, I think, very quickly.”