Biden Wants an Abortion Protection Filibuster Exception

President Biden stated Thursday the Senate should create an exemption to the filibuster requirement of 60 votes to enshrine abortion rights, following the Supreme Court’s reversal of the Roe v. Wade precedent. 

A Simple Majority

A change to the filibuster, which currently requires 60 Senate votes for most bills to pass, would allow abortion rights and broader privacy rights.

This would include access to birth control and the right to same-sex marriage to be codified with a simple majority.

In a concurring opinion, Justice Clarence Thomas stated these precedents should be reconsidered.

That prompted Democrats to express alarm that striking down Roe might be the first in a succession of court rulings overturning precedents protecting access to birth control and same-sex marriage. 

The majority of the Senate is held by the Democrats, who have 50 senators plus Vice President Harris, who casts the tie-breaking vote. 

However, Biden’s prior call for a filibuster exemption for voting rights laws failed to obtain traction; it seems unlikely there would be sufficient support for a similar exemption for abortion.

Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) have voiced concerns about changing the filibuster, which would require the support of all 50 Democrats. 

Democratic leaders and voters placed heavy pressure on the White House to start taking action following the Supreme Court’s decision last week to overturn Roe v. Wade.

This eradicates the nearly 50-year-old legal and constitutional right to abortion and grants states the authority to restrict or ban the procedure severely. 

The court issued Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban.

This directly contradicted Roe’s mandate that states enable abortions up to the point of fetal viability, roughly 24 weeks, and Planned Parenthood v. Casey, a 1992 ruling reaffirmed Roe’s central holding. 


Nationwide outrage was sparked by the court’s decision to push down women’s rights and access to reproductive health care. Given that a draft of the court’s judgment leaked in early May, the White House was scrutinized for its lack of response. 

The White House voiced displeasure with the judgment, but has taken few concrete actions to protect rights to abortion in the immediate wake of the ruling. 

In a document, the Pentagon stated it would continue to offer abortions at military sites where the mother’s life is in danger or when the pregnancy is the product of rape or incest. 

Some politicians proposed protecting abortion access on federal property, but the White House argued that doing so would have too many unforeseen implications. 

Once he arrives in Washington, D.C., Biden will speak with governors who have taken action to defend abortion access, he said Thursday. 

Biden said it was annoying that the Supreme Court of the United States did something stupid like overturn Roe v. Wade and attack the right to privacy.


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