As the United States braces for an impending ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court on abortion, Democrats and the Biden administration are exploring ways to counter a ruling from the Court that would overturn Roe v. Wade.
Twenty-five senators delivered a June 7 letter to President Joe Biden, urging him to use executive action directing the federal government to develop a national plan to keep abortion legal across the nation. They also request that Biden draft an executive order instructing the heads of every federal agency to submit, within 30 days, a plan to protect abortion.
“Abortion access is under attack in the United States and already completely eliminated in swaths of the country. After decades of activism by Republican extremists, the Supreme Court is poised to overturn Roe v. Wade, reversing nearly 50 years of settled law and eviscerating the right to a legal abortion,” the letter states.
Twenty-four signatories to the letter are registered Democrats. The one registered independent who signed is Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.
“Americans across the nation and at every level of government must stand up against this unprecedented assault on women and their right to make decisions about their own bodies and lives,” the letter adds. “But as President of the United States, you have the unique power to marshal the resources of the entire federal government to respond.”
The senators demand “comprehensive and creative strategies from every corner of the federal government” and urged the Biden administration to consider six specific remedies:
- Increasing access to medication abortion
- Providing resources for individuals seeking abortion care in other states
- Establishing a reproductive health ombudsman at the Department of Health and Humans Services (HHS)
- Enforcing “Free Choice of Provider” requirements
- Clarifying protections for sensitive health and location data
- Using federal property and resources to increase access to abortion
The New York Times reported that the Biden administration is considering declaring a national public health emergency, prepping the Justice Department to fight attempts by states to criminalize travel for the purpose of abortion, and finding ways to assert that state bans on abortion do no pre-empt Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations approving abortion medications.
“We are at a crisis moment for abortion access in this country, and officials at all levels of government must respond — including the executive branch,” Marya Torrez, senior director of policy development and strategy at Planned Parenthood Federation of America told the Times. According to their reporting, one risky strategy being floated “calls for Mr. Biden to invite abortion doctors to work at federal enclaves, like military bases, inside states that criminalize abortion. State prosecutors lack jurisdiction in such zones, so the federal government handles crimes there, and it is not always clear whether criminal laws at the state level apply.”
The Biden administration is also considering ideas that would allow women in states that ban abortion to use out-of-state pharmacies to obtain pills that can terminate a pregnancy within the first 10 weeks.
President Biden addressed the possibility of Roe v. Wade being overturned on Jimmy Kimmel Live! in early June.
“I don’t think the country will stand for it,” he said. “There’s some executive orders I could employ, we believe. We’re looking at that right now.”
A barricade has been erected around the Supreme Court, as a ruling on a case that could severely restrict abortion rights is expected before July.
The Supreme Court has just two weeks and 29 opinions remaining in this term.