Fact Check

Did Joe Biden Once Say That Roe v. Wade "Went Too Far"?

The origin of this claim was an interview conducted with then-Senator Biden in 1974.

Published May 17, 2019

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 12: Former U.S. Vice president Joe Biden speaks at the International Association of Fire Fighters legislative conference March 12, 2019 in Washington, DC. The conference addresses issues including firefighter mental health, funding the 9/11 Victims Compensation Fund and collective bargaining. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Joe Biden once said that Roe v. Wade — the U.S. Supreme Court case that protects a pregnant woman's freedom to choose whether to have an abortion — went too far.


In 1974, Joe Biden gave a notably candid interview to the Washingtonian, a D.C-area monthly magazine. Excerpts from that profile, which painted the young U.S. senator as conservative Democrat, emerged in multiple contexts after became a candidate for the U.S. presidency in 2019. Among the many topics covered in the Washingtonian profile was the senator’s views on abortion in general and the Roe v. Wade specifically. Speaking of that 1972 U.S. Supreme Court decision, Biden did say that he felt it went too far: "I don’t like the Supreme Court decision on abortion. I think it went too far. I don’t think that a woman has the sole right to say what should happen to her body."

That statement was memorialized in meme form in the run-up to the 2020 presidential election:

As we discussed in an earlier fact check, Biden’s views on abortion rights have shifted since then. In 2007, for example, Biden was given a 0% score by the (pro-life) National Right to Life Committee and a 75% score by the NARAL Pro-Choice America. “I accept church rule personally, but not in public life,” he said in October 2012. On 25 April 2019, the anti-abortion Life Site News website announced Biden’s candidacy this way: “Pro-abortion Joe Biden announces entry into 2020 presidential race.”

Because the meme accurately represents public statements made by Biden in 1974, however, we rank the claim that he once said Roe v. Wade went “too far” as true.


Kelley, Kitty.   “Death and the All-American Boy.”     Washingtonian.   1 June 1974.

VoteSmart.org.   "Joe Biden, Jr.'s Ratings and Endorsements on Issue: Abortion"     Accessed 11 March 2018.

OnTheIssues.org.   "2012 Vice Presidential Debate Rep. Paul Ryan (R) vs. V.P. Joe Biden (D) Oct. 11, 2012."     Accessed 11 March 2018.

Freiburger, Calvin.   “Pro-Abortion Joe Biden Announces Entry Into 2020 Presidential Race.”     Life Site News.   25 April 2019.

Alex Kasprak is an investigative journalist and science writer reporting on scientific misinformation, online fraud, and financial crime.

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