WASHINGTON — A bunch of Senate Democrats sent a letter to President Biden on Saturday urging him to take “daring motion” on abortion rights, a day after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the landmark case that legalized abortion nationwide.
Thirty-four senators signed the letter, which called on the president to “take immediate motion” and “use the complete force of the federal government to guard access to abortion in the US.” The letter, led by Senator Patty Murray of Washington, emphasized the urgency of the difficulty, citing the various states whose trigger laws have already made abortion illegal and the potential for other states to swiftly follow suit.
“We want the president and all of his cabinet secretaries immediately to have detailed plans about what they’ll implement so that individuals can have the knowledge they need,” Ms. Murray, the chairwoman of the Senate health committee, said in an interview. “It’s frustrating because with this decision in place, it’s now imperative that girls get the knowledge they need today.”
This month, before the court’s ruling, greater than 20 Senate Democrats sent Mr. Biden a letter urging him to issue an executive order that might defend abortion and reproductive rights. They suggested that the federal government could take steps to extend access to medication abortion and supply resources for people searching for out-of-state abortion care, akin to travel vouchers, amongst other actions.
With an evenly divided Senate, Democrats have little hope of legislative motion on abortion rights — leaving the president’s executive authority, nevertheless limited, as certainly one of the few avenues on the federal level for attempting to mitigate the consequences of the court’s ruling.
While a bill focused on increasing reproductive rights and codifying the abortion rights in Roe passed the House last fall, it didn’t clear the Senate last month within the face of opposition from all Republicans and one Democrat, Joe Manchin III of West Virginia. Mr. Manchin has expressed support for codifying Roe, but Democrats would still need the support of 10 Republicans to achieve the 60-vote threshold needed to pass most bills within the chamber.
“We don’t have the votes to overturn this decision immediately,” Ms. Murray said. “That’s the reason the November election is so critical.”
Chatting with reporters on Air Force One on Saturday, the White House press secretary, Karine Jean-Pierre, said that Mr. Biden would proceed searching for legal advice about what executive actions he could take. But she emphasized the necessity for congressional motion in response to the court’s ruling.
“The truth is we’ve got to get Congress to act to revive Roe, to make it law of the land,” she said.