Biden Offers Muddled Response on Abortion, Pivots to Immigration

Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post
Former president Donald Trump and President Joe Biden during the debate.

Abortion debuted early during the presidential debate, with President Biden and former president Donald Trump offering highly contrasting and muddled responses on a key issue for voters in the 2024 election.

CNN debate moderator Dana Bash opened the topic by asking Trump whether he would block abortion medication as president.

Trump in his response sought to take credit for putting “three great Supreme Court justices on the court, and they happened to vote in favor of killing Roe v. Wade and moving it back to the states,” adding that he believes in exceptions for rape, incest and the life of the mother.

Biden in his response pushed back on Trump’s praise for the Supreme Court returning abortion to the states, saying, “The idea that states are able to do this is a little like saying, We’re going to turn civil rights back to the states, and each state have a different rule.”

He added: “Look, there are so many young women who have been, including a young woman who just was murdered, and he went to the funeral. And the idea that she was murdered by an immigrant coming in, to talk about that. But here’s the deal. There’s a lot of young women are being raped by their in-laws, by their, by their spouses. Brothers and sisters, by – it’s just ridiculous. And they can do nothing about it. And they try to arrest them and they cross state lines.”

In a follow-up question, Bash asked Biden whether he supports any legal limits on how late a person should be able to terminate a pregnancy. Biden began by reiterating his support for Roe – a highly motivating issue for the Democratic base – then offered a muddled definition of the tenets of Roe v. Wade and appeared to conflate the trimesters and both the exceptions for abortion and the decision-making process around abortion.

“I support Roe v. Wade, which had three trimesters,” Biden said. “The first time is between a woman and a doctor. Second time is between a doctor and an extreme situation. A third time is between the doctor, I mean, between the women and the state.”

Trump then falsely accused some Democrats of supporting abortion “after birth,” to which Biden responded: “You’re lying, that is simply not true. … We are not for late-term abortion, period.”