Biden ‘fully behind’ G7 agreement amid spat over abortion language

June 14, 2024

President Biden is supportive of the wording in the Group of Seven (G7) communique about reproductive rights, according to officials, despite controversy over whether world leaders would include abortion in their statement at this year’s summit in Italy.

“He stands fully behind the language that that made its way into the final communique. He felt strongly about the language that that made it through,” a senior administration official told reporters.

Earlier on Friday, Reuters obtained a draft of the statement, which said leaders upheld commitments “to universal access to adequate, affordable, and quality health services for women,” without mentioning reproductive health rights.

That reportedly led to a spat between Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and French President Emmanuel Macron, over whether to include reproductive rights in the agreement to be signed by the seven countries in the group.

Meloni is one of the only far-right conservative leaders in the group of countries who reportedly called for such language’s removal. Instead of the draft language, leaders agreed to use holdover language from the summit’s agreement in 2023 that included an explicit reference to abortion, though they did not end up using the word abortion in the text now awaiting signature.

The communique to be agreed to this year reads: “We reiterate our commitments in the Hiroshima Leaders’ Communiqué to universal access to adequate, affordable, and quality health services for women, including comprehensive sexual and reproductive health and rights for all.”

The senior administration official pointed to that passage as “the language related to abortion.” He added that “some of the words might not be identical but the commitments are the same and that’s very much the intent of what was put in the communique,” referring to the agreement that followed the 2023 summit in Hiroshima, Japan, that the holdover language was drawn from.

The 2023 communique included the importance of “access to safe and legal abortion and post-abortion care,” according to Reuters.

The G7 leaders also met with Pope Francis on Thursday ahead of releasing the communique. The Catholic Church is staunchly against abortion, and Biden, as the second Catholic president in U.S. history, has been faced with balancing his faith with his support for abortion access, especially in the wake of the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade. Biden has expressed discomfort with the word abortion.

The Pope and Biden met one-on-one on Thursday. Conservative U.S. Catholic bishops, early in Biden’s administration, led calls for the church to not offer him communion over his support for access.

When Biden and the Pope met in October 2021, the president said he was told he should keep receiving communion.

Biden sat down with Meloni on Friday and didn’t respond to shouted questions from reporters over whether he could accept a G7 communique without the mention of abortion.

A senior administration official, on reports of a fight over whether abortion will be mentioned in final communique and Meloni’s push to keep it out, responded, “I can tell you that the G7 communique is going to be agreed by consensus by all G7 countries.”