A leaked draft opinion suggests that the Supreme Court is poised to overturn Roe v. Wade. Shortly after the document was published, a meme began circulating that falsely claims President Joe Biden has “[s]topped abortion.”
Within a day, a meme started circulating on social media claiming that President Joe Biden, who is in his second year in office, had “[s]topped abortion in 2 YEARS.” That’s wrong in a few ways. We’ll explain.
First of all, the opinion is a draft, not a final ruling. Nothing has changed yet. Roe v. Wade still protects the right to an abortion until the point of viability, which is when the fetus could survive outside the uterus.
If the court does overturn Roe v. Wade, access to abortion would be up to each state, which would likely lead to a patchwork of laws across the country. As we’ve explained before, advocacy and research groups have estimated that about half the states would be likely to ban or severely restrict abortion.
In a statement issued the day after Politico published the document, the court said, “Justices circulate draft opinions internally as a routine and essential part of the Court’s confidential deliberative work. Although the document described in yesterday’s reports is authentic, it does not represent a decision by the Court or the final position of any member on the issues in the case.”
Second, Justice Samuel Alito — who was appointed to the court by a Republican president, George W. Bush — wrote the draft. According to Politico, he was joined by four justices who had been appointed by other Republican presidents, George H.W. Bush and Donald Trump.
Trump appointed three of those justices and, when asked during a debate in 2016 if he wanted to see Roe v. Wade overturned, he said, “If we put another two or, perhaps, three justices on, that’s really … what will happen and that’ll happen automatically, in my opinion, because I am putting pro-life justices on the court.”
Biden, on the other hand, has taken the opposite approach. When he was asked about Roe v. Wade during a debate in 2019, he said, “Reproductive rights are a constitutional right. And, in fact, every woman should have that right.”
So, none of the justices who are reportedly in favor of the opinion were appointed by Biden.
Third, the sitting president doesn’t determine the outcome of cases before the court. The judicial branch — of which the court is a part — is separate and distinct from the executive branch — which includes the president — as set out in the Constitution.
In addition to the meme’s primary claim about Biden having “[s]topped abortion,” it also lists the religious affiliation for Biden and each of the previous four presidents. But it gives the wrong religion for former President Barack Obama and perpetuates a long-standing falsehood that he’s Muslim.
As we’ve explained before, Obama was not raised in a religious household, but he became a Christian as an adult.
In his 2006 memoir, “The Audacity of Hope,” Obama wrote: “It came about as a choice and not an epiphany; the questions I had did not magically disappear. But kneeling beneath that cross on the South Side of Chicago, I felt God’s spirit beckoning me. I submitted myself to His will, and dedicated myself to discovering His truth.”
Although Obama spoke regularly about his faith, the false claim that he was Muslim rather than Christian continued to spread over the course of his presidency and beyond, as demonstrated by this meme.
Editor’s note: FactCheck.org is one of several organizations working with Facebook to debunk misinformation shared on social media. Our previous stories can be found here. Facebook has no control over our editorial content.
Gerstein, Josh and Alexander Ward. “Supreme Court has voted to overturn abortion rights, draft opinion shows.” Politico. Updated 3 May 2022.
Roe v. Wade. No. 70-18. U.S. Supreme Court. 22 Jan 1973.
Robertson, Lori and Eugene Kiely. “What Happens if Roe v. Wade Is Overturned?” FactCheck.org. Updated 5 May 2022.
U.S. Supreme Court. Press release. 3 May 2022.
U.S. Supreme Court. Current members. Accessed 5 May 2022.
Presidential debate. C-SPAN. 19 Oct 2016.
Democratic debate. CNN. 15 Oct 2019.
Official Guide to Government Information and Services. “Branches of the U.S. Government.” USA.gov. Updated 31 Jan 2022.
Gore, D’Angelo. “Eight Years of Trolling Obama.” FactCheck.org. 19 Jan 2017.
Pew Research Center. “Religion and Politics ’08: Barack Obama.” 4 Nov 2008.