By Andrea Shalal
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -U.S. President Joe Biden on Friday vowed to use his veto power to protect women's rights if Republicans win control of Congress in next month's midterm elections and pass laws to outlaw abortion nationwide.
Biden, asked in an interview with MSNBC what he would do to protect women's rights should Republicans gain control of the legislature, said: “Veto anything they do.”
The Democratic president this week sought to mobilize his left-leaning base by promising to sign a law to codify abortion rights in January if Democrats triumph in next month's elections.
Biden's Democrats could lose control of the House of Representatives, and possibly the Senate too, in the November vote. The president is trying to rally the party and its supporters around abortion rights, which were sharply curtailed by the Supreme Court's decision nearly four months ago to overturn the landmark Roe v Wade ruling.
If Democrats elect more senators and keep control of the House, Biden said he would sign a law in January to ensure women's right to abortion across the country.
Democrats, who largely support abortion rights, currently have a slim majority in the House and control the 50-50 Senate through Vice President Kamala Harris' ability to cast tie-breaking votes. Republicans largely oppose abortion rights.
In order to outlaw abortion, Republicans would have to pass legislation, but it would not become the law of the land unless Biden signed it.
“The president has to sign it. I'll veto it,” he said.
The Supreme Court overturned the 1973 Roe v Wade decision that recognized women's constitutional right to abortion in June, drawing condemnation from Biden and spurring optimism among Democrats that outrage over the decision would drive voters to the polls in November.
But high inflation has remained at the top of voters' minds, according to Reuters/Ipsos polling, and just 8% of Americans cited the end of national abortion rights as the issue that will most influence how they vote in November, compared with 27% who cited inflation in a poll conducted Sept. 27 to Oct. 3.
(Reporting by Andrea ShalalEditing by Chris Reese and Rosalba O'Brien)