Politics Biden set to meet pope as US abortion debate rages
Roe v. Wade Being Overturned Would See Pre-Civil War Abortion Laws Come Back Into Effect
Several states proscribed prison sentences for assisting with abortions before the laws became unenforceable.In Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization the 6-3 conservative majority court will be asked directly to overturn the landmark decision in 1973's Roe V. Wade and the subsequent decision in Planned Parenthood v. Casey.
President Biden, only the second Catholic president in U.S. history, will have an audience with Pope Francis on Friday, a meeting that comes amid increasing focus on the issue of abortion rights, which Biden has made a priority of defending.
The Supreme Court has agreed to review Texas's six-week abortion ban after legal challenges from the Biden administration, and the president faces a lawsuit in Ohio for overturning a Trump-era ban on abortion referrals, all while U.S. Catholic bishops are debating whether Biden should be denied communion over his stance on the procedure.
Texas’s anti-abortion law is back at SCOTUS. Here’s what’s different this time around.
The Biden administration’s last-ditch bid to restore abortion rights in Texas, explained.The Supreme Court, where Republican appointees hold a 6-3 supermajority, is unlikely to do anything to restore abortion rights in Texas. Last month, a 5-4 Court handed down its own thinly reasoned, single-paragraph order permitting the Texas law to take effect. The Court also plans to hear a case in December, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which asks the justices to overrule Roe v. Wade altogether.
The White House said topics in the meeting, which first lady Jill Biden will also join, include the coronavirus pandemic, climate change and caring for the poor, all issues where Biden and the pope have common ground.
Francis has encouraged people to get the COVID-19 vaccine, is passionate about climate change and has devoted his papacy to helping the poor.
He is also strongly against abortion and considers it murder.
Biden has been committed during his presidency to a women's right to choose. During the 2020 Democratic presidential primary, he switched to opposing the Hyde amendment, which prohibits federal funds to be used to pay for abortions, after supporting it throughout his political career.
His abortion stances have led to a formal statement coming next month from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops on the meaning of Holy Communion, which will include whether pro-choice politicians such as Biden should be denied it.
Biden to meet with Pope Francis to discuss COVID-19, climate
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden is set to meet Pope Francis when he visits the Vatican later this month as part of a five-day swing through Italy and the U.K. for global economic and climate change meetings. Biden plans to discuss the coronavirus pandemic, the climate crisis and poverty during his meeting with the pope, according to the White House. The meeting will take place on Oct. 29, and Biden will then attend a two-day summit of G-20 leaders in Rome, before heading to Glasgow, Scotland for the U.N. climate conference known as COP26. © Provided by Associated Press FILE - In this Sept.
The decision to proceed with its drafting runs counter to the wishes of the pope, who has cautioned American bishops against denying communion to politicians and warned that the rite shouldn't be used as a political weapon.
"It's clear that the Vatican and Pope Francis are really trying openly to protect Joe Biden's access to the sacraments. They are protecting Biden's Catholicism from the attacks of the U.S. bishops, and not just because they are concerned about Joe Biden but because they are concerned about what's happening to Catholicism in this country," said Massimo Faggioli, professor of theology and religious studies at Villanova University.
"They are trying to avoid this mutation of Catholicism in this country into a partisan, sectarian church, which is contrary to the Catholic idea that it's a big tent fundamentally," he added.
Biden regularly goes to church over weekends in Wilmington, Del., or Washington, D.C., and he touts his faith as a deeply personal aspect of his life.
26 states 'certain or likely' to ban abortion if Roe is overturned: Report
The Guttmacher Institute put out a new report on what would happen if Roe, which granted the federal right to abortion, were overturned or weakened. The court will be hearing a case out of Mississippi, Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health, that asks the justices to directly reconsider the landmark precedent in Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which many court watchers believe is closer to a possibility than ever with the current makeup of the court.
The White House said this week that the president "has a very personal relationship with Pope Francis." Biden, 78, has met Francis, 84, three times before.
"We certainly expect it to be a warm meeting," press secretary Jen Psaki said Wednesday.
The White House has deflected from saying if they anticipate Biden's stance on abortion will come up during this meeting.
However, Paul Manuel, distinguished scholar in residence at the school of public affairs at American University, thinks discussion of the issue is inevitable.
"No doubt that the issues of abortion and same-sex marriage will be brought up by the pope, but I don't think that this will dominate their conversation. Pope Francis has a habit of discussing church teachings in a pastoral, not a harsh, way," he said.
On if the meeting could be characterized as a formal or personal visit, national security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters this week, "I might say both."
Every American president since Dwight Eisenhower has met with a pope, regardless of political party or religion.
"Just like when Pope Francis met President Obama in 2014, it seems like both Pope Francis and President Biden genuinely like each other. They seem to enjoy each other's company. I think they're going to spend some time talking about the struggles they each have in their positions. They will also certainly discuss their shared policy views," Manuel said.
Biden to meet behind closed-doors with Pope amid pressure on abortion
President Biden will meet with Pope Francis at the Vatican amid pressures from the American church who wants to admonish politicans who support abortion rights but take communion. Biden, a devout Catholic, attends weekly mass and Catholic holy days. He carries rosary beads that belonged to his deceased son Beau and he keeps a photo of himself and the Pope behind his desk in the Oval Office in the first row of pictures next to ones with his family.This will be the fourth time the two men meet and the meeting kicks of Biden's five-day trip to Europe.
The White House and Vatican have not committed to full media access to the meeting. That could mean if abortion is discussed, it is never publicized.
Anti-abortion groups are pushing for Biden's countering of the church's position to be brought up.
"An important part of the Church's role in the world is to stand up for the moral truths without which a truly just society cannot exist. We hope that the Holy Father will remind President Biden of what John Paul II explained so well, namely that any concern for the climate or the poor is 'false and illusory' if the right to life is not defended with maximum determination," said Brian Burch, president of CatholicVote.org.
Pope John Paul II famously rebuked former President Clinton for his stance on abortion rights, with the topic dominating two meetings between them.
Anti-abortion group Live Action's president and founder, Lila Rose, argued that Biden has abandoned his faith with his stance.
"President Biden is morally, scientifically, and legally wrong in his support of the killing of preborn children. I pray that the visit with Pope Francis will inspire President Biden to turn away from his blatant support of violence against children, and towards the urgent need to protect innocent human life," she said.
Biden the Sinner
The president’s meeting with Pope Francis will come at a delicate time for both leaders.Sitting in the dark-brown pews that Saturday evening—where the first Roman Catholic president, John F. Kennedy, had once prayed—Joe Biden listened attentively. Father Kelley’s address made an impression on the president. A couple of days later, another Holy Trinity pastor, Kevin Gillespie, was on the golf course waiting for the group up ahead to finish a hole when he checked his phone for messages. He had a missed call from the Biden administration. The president was requesting a copy of the pointed homily. “It ruined my next shot, I was so excited,” Gillespie told me.
Experts argue that this pope is not a single-issue Catholic, so he likely won't make abortion a main focus, despite the push from U.S. bishops.
"You can be a theological conservative and a social liberal. And then you have to balance those two things, and unfortunately for many of the bishops in the United States, they focus very heavily on the issue of abortion and because of that they have been brought into the circles of evangelicals," said James Carroll, professor of history at Iona College.
Just days after Biden's visit to the Vatican, the Supreme Court will start oral arguments to review Texas's six-week abortion ban, which the Department of Justice says violates the court's 1973 decision in Roe v. Wade.
In Ohio this week, state Attorney General Dave Yost (R) filed a lawsuit against the Biden administration seeking to restore a Trump-era ban on abortion referrals that was overturned earlier in October. The overturned measures required federally funded family planning clinics to be independent of abortion clinics and mandate that they don't refer patients for abortions.
Meanwhile, the president didn't include the Hyde amendment in his proposed 2022 budget, which was hailed by reproductive rights groups, and Senate Democrats for the first time in decades left it out of their annual government funding bills.
Some U.S. bishops, namely San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, have said they would deny communion to pro-abortion rights Catholic politicians such as Biden or Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). Meanwhile, Cardinal Wilton Gregory of D.C., whom Francis elevated to the role, has said Biden can receive communion in his jurisdiction.
Church law doesn't allow for national policies, so even if, following the November release of the teaching document, the bishops vote to deny pro-abortion rights politicians communion, it would need approval from the Vatican, which is highly unlikely.
The division between some U.S. bishops and the Vatican has made the relationship between the pope and Biden stronger, Faggioli argued.
"There are many differences, not just on abortion, but on many issues between Pope Francis and Joe Biden but the fact that they share their enemies have made them allies," Faggioli said. "They face the same opposition from conservative Catholics and from the Republican Party."
Despite the backlash from some U.S. bishops towards Biden, a meeting between the pope and the president is tradition and standard protocol.
"There is nothing that is extraordinary or extra," Faggioli said. "Of course, that stands out in the eyes of Catholics in this country that are told constantly that Joe Biden isn't a Catholic, he should be excommunicated. From the Vatican, what is happening is absolutely normal."
Opinion: A victory for women against Texas abortion law would be short-lived .
Law professor Mary Ziegler writes after Monday's Supreme Court oral argument on SB8, Texas's restrictive abortion measure, that while the justices' questions implied that the Texas law is in trouble, they also showed that Roe v. Wade is in trouble too.On Monday, the contentious Texas abortion law seemed to be in trouble at the US Supreme Court. But even if the court sides against Texas in one major abortion case, Roe v. Wade will still be at risk of being overturned in another.