Barack Obama Blasted for Not Codifying Roe v. Wade: 'Dem Failure'

Social media users have criticized former President Barack Obama for not passing legislation to codify abortion rights into federal following the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to overturn two landmark abortion rulings.

Obama, a Democrat who served as president from 2009 to 2017, took to Twitter on Friday in response to the Court's decision to overturn 1973's Roe v. Wade and 1992's Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which had found a woman's right to abortion was constitutionally protected.

"Today, the Supreme Court not only reversed nearly 50 years of precedent, it relegated the most intensely personal decision someone can make to the whims of politicians and ideologues—attacking the essential freedoms of millions of Americans," the former president wrote at the beginning of thread about abortion rights.

Critics responded to Obama's tweets by arguing he had had the ability to codify Roe into federal law during his time as president but failed to do so despite Democrats controlling the White House, the Senate and the House of Representatives from 2009 to 2011.

"The Dems refused to Codify Roe even when they had the power to," wrote screenwriter Thomas Cunningham. "RBG refused to retire when Obama could pick her replacement. Biden promised he's codify Roe. Didn't. Trump win is only 1 part. The other is Dem failure."

He was referring to the late Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a liberal who passed away in late 2020 and who was succeeded by conservative Justice Amy Coney Barrett, who was nominated by former President Donald Trump. Many progressives had called on Ginsburg to retire and allow Obama to appoint her successor.

"You could have codified Roe v. Wade in 2009, but you didn't because 'abortion rights weren't the priority,'" tweeted Ash Sarkar, contributing editor at progressive outlet Novara Media.

"This is the right's war on women, but they've been helped by the complacency of establishment Democrats," Sarkar said.

"Worth remembering: when he was President, Obama had a supermajority in Congress and didn't codify abortion rights into national law," tweeted Nomia Iqbal, BBC's Washington correspondent.

In April, 2009, the recently inaugurated Obama said that legislation to codify abortion rights into federal law "is not the highest legislative priority."

That legislation was the Freedom of Choice Act, which would have effectively enshrined Roe v. Wade into law. In 2007, then Senator Obama told Planned Parenthood signing that law would be "the first thing I'd do as president."

For a brief period during the 111th Congress, Democrats had a filibuster-proof 60 seat majority in the Senate when independents who caucus with the Democrats are taken into account but the Freedom of Choice Act never became law.

"Obama PROMISED that the FIRST thing he would do as president was Codify Abortion rights into law, he had a super majority and purposely didn't do it cuz Democrats want to run on it," tweeted comedian Jimmy Dore on Friday.

"And like clockwork, Democrat apologists excuse the powerful & want you to blame your neighbor," Dore said.

Amy Tarkanian, former chair of the Nevada Republican Party, also pointed to Democrats' majority during Obama's first two years.

"Democrats had a supermajority in 2008 and did not 'codify Roe,'" Tarkanian tweeted. "They control all branches of government RIGHT NOW and did not 'codify Roe'. To those who are so outraged right now, why don't you ask Obama and Biden why they didn't legislate this before the SCOTUS ruling?"

Journalist Lola Mendez tweeted: "Obama didn't codify Roe v Wade like he said he would."

Author Rebecca Fishbein tweeted that "elections have consequences, but a) the line starts when the Supreme Court handed the 2000 election to GWB and b) Obama had the power to codify abortion in 2009 and didn't. history is more complicated than a single election."

"Enraging to think about the two years in the Obama administration when Democrats had a filibuster-proof majority, but didn't codify Roe into law," wrote author Laila Lalami.

Newsweek has asked former President Obama's office for comment.

Barack Obama Speaks at COP26
Former US president Barack Obama speaks during day 9 of COP26 on November 8, 2021 in Glasgow, Scotland. Obama has been criticized for not codifying abortion rights into federal law while he was president. Ian Forsyth/Getty Images