Joe Biden on Tuesday blasted a “radical” Supreme Court draft opinion that would overturn the landmark 1973 case that legalised abortion nationwide.
The US president said he hoped the draft wouldn't be finalised by judges, contending it reflects a “fundamental shift in American jurisprudence" that threatens “other basic rights” like access to birth control and marriage.
“If this decision holds, it’s really quite a radical decision," he added.
A decision to overrule Roe v. Wade could lead to abortion bans in roughly half the states and could have huge ramifications for this year's elections, energising the highly-polarising issue.
It looks set to spark new efforts in Democratic-leaning states to protect access to abortion.
“If the court does overturn Roe, it will fall on our nation’s elected officials at all levels of government to protect a woman’s right to choose,” Biden said.
Vice President Kamala Harris blasted the draft US Supreme Court decision that would overturn federal abortion rights.
“How dare they,” she said on Tuesday in a speech at the EMILY’S List political action committee national conference. “How dare they try to deny women their rights and their freedoms.”
“Women’s rights in America are under attack,” Harris said. “Today we know our purpose, we also know what we are up against. Let us fight with everything we’ve got.”
On Wednesday, the World Health Organization (WHO) also called for abortion rights to be upheld, without referring to the US Supreme Court.
"Women should always have the right to choose when it comes to their bodies and their health," Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus wrote on Twitter.
"Restricting access to abortion does not reduce the number of procedures — it drives women and girls towards unsafe ones."
The Supreme Court cautioned no final decision had been made. A final ruling has not been expected until the end of the court’s term in late June or early July.
An investigation has been ordered into the leak of the draft opinion which was published by Politico, and which represents an extremely rare breach of the court’s secretive deliberation process.
The report comes amid a legislative push to restrict abortion in several Republican-led states — Oklahoma being the most recent — even before the court issues its decision.
Oklahoma’s Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt signed a Texas-style abortion ban on Tuesday that prohibits abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy.
In contrast, leaders in New York and California have rolled out the welcome mat to their states for women seeking abortions, and other Democratic states moved to protect access to abortion in their laws.
Rival groups of protesters have begun taking to the streets since the news broke, some staging a demonstration outside the Supreme Court.
A Los Angeles protest briefly turned into a skirmish with police, who said one officer was injured.