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White House: Serious risk of nationwide abortion ban after McConnell floats the idea

Abortion rights protesters hold a demonstration outside of the  Supreme Court on Saturday in Washington.
Amanda Andrade-Rhoades
Abortion rights protesters hold a demonstration outside of the Supreme Court on Saturday in Washington.

Protests against the Supreme Court's leaked draft opinion on overturning abortion rights garnered a response from the White House Monday.

Over the weekend, protestors peacefully rallied outside the homes of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh and Chief Justice John Roberts. And there were also protests in other major cities across the country. In Madison, Wisc., authorities say they are investigating possible arson at an anti-abortion group's office.

".@POTUS strongly believes in the Constitutional right to protest. But that should never include violence, threats, or vandalism," Press Secretary Jen Psaki tweeted Monday morning. "Judges perform an incredibly important function in our society, and they must be able to do their jobs without concern for their personal safety."

This Saturday, another wave of pro-abortion rights protests are expected for a "Band Off Our Bodies" day of action, organized by Planned Parenthood organizations, Women's March and other groups.

McConnell says national abortion ban is 'possible'

Republican lawmakers spent last weekcondemning the leak of the draft opinion, choosing not to weigh in as heavily on the court's likely decision to overturn Roe.

But in an interview with USA Today published over the weekend, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said if the draft represented the final ruling, GOP lawmakers might then pursue a national abortion ban. As of now, the leaked opinion from the court would allow states to implement their own abortion bans, but it does not ban abortion on the national level.

"If the leaked opinion became the final opinion, legislative bodies — not only at the state level but at the federal level — certainly could legislate in that area," McConnell said.

"If this were the final decision, that was the point that it should be resolved one way or another in the legislative process. So yeah, it's possible."

The Senate would need 60 votes to codify that kind of legislation, which with the filibuster, is currently not likely. But McConnell's statement certainly puts morepressure on Democrats to hold over their control of the Senate in this year's midterm elections.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee responded to McConnell's comments over the weekend:

"Mitch McConnell confirmed what voters have long known: Republicans will use every tool they can, from the courts to Congress, to make abortion illegal everywhere and strip away a woman's right to make our own decisions. For voters, the stakes of protecting and expanding our Democratic Senate Majority in 2022 have never been higher."

The Senate on Wednesday will vote on a bill to create a federal right to have an abortion, but the effort appears symbolic and unlikely to overcome a Republican filibuster.

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Deepa Shivaram
Deepa Shivaram is a multi-platform political reporter on NPR's Washington Desk.