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Biden says he’s mulling health emergency for abortion access


U.S. President Joe Biden speaks before signing an executive order to assist safeguard women’s access to abortion and contraception after the Supreme Court last month overturned Roe v Wade decision that legalized abortion, on the White House in Washington, July 8, 2022.

Kevin Lamarque | Reuters

President Joe Biden said Sunday he’s considering declaring a public health emergency to liberate federal resources to advertise abortion access regardless that the White House has said it doesn’t seem to be “an excellent option.”

He also offered a message to people enraged by the Supreme Court’s ruling last month that ended a constitutional right to abortion and who’ve been demonstrating across the country: “Keep protesting. Keep making your point. It’s critically necessary.”

The president, in remarks to reporters during a stop on a motorcycle ride near his family’s Delaware beach house, said he lacks the ability to force the dozen-plus states with strict restrictions or outright bans on abortion to permit the procedure.

“I haven’t got the authority to say that we’ll reinstate Roe v. Wade because the law of the land,” he said, referring to the Supreme Court’s decision from 1973 that had established a national right to abortion.

Biden said Congress would must codify that right and for that to have a greater probability in the longer term, voters would must elect more lawmakers who support abortion access.

Biden said his administration is attempting to do a “lot of things to accommodate the rights of girls” after the ruling, including considering declaring a public health emergency to liberate federal resources. Such a move has been pushed by advocates, but White House officials have questioned each its legality and effectiveness, and noted it will almost actually face legal challenges.

The president said he has asked officials “to have a look at whether I even have the authority to do this and what impact that will have.”

On Friday, Jen Klein, the director of the White House Gender Policy Council, said it “didn’t seem to be an excellent option.”

“Once we checked out the general public health emergency, we learned a pair things: One is that it doesn’t free very many resources,” she told reporters. “It’s what’s in the general public health emergency fund, and there is little or no money — tens of 1000’s of dollars in it. So that did not seem to be an excellent option. And it also doesn’t release a big amount of legal authority. And in order that’s why we have not taken that motion yet.”

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