White House press secretary says using federal lands for abortion services would have ‘dangerous ramifications’
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Tuesday that using federal lands for abortion services would have “dangerous ramifications,” rejecting calls from several Democratic lawmakers for President Joe Biden to allow abortion providers to work from federal property in states where the procedure is banned.
“We understand the proposal is well-intentioned, but here’s the thing: It could actually put women and providers at risk,” Jean-Pierre told reporters aboard Air Force One as Biden traveled from the G7 in Germany to the NATO summit in Spain.
She continued, “And importantly, in states where abortion is now illegal, women and providers who are not federal employees, as you look at the federal land, could be potentially — be prosecuted. And so this is, as we understand why they would put forward this proposal, there’s actually dangerous ramifications to doing this.”
Vice President Kamala Harris told CNN’s Dana Bash in an interview that aired Monday that the administration was not currently discussing using federal lands for abortion services in the wake of the Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade. Calls for the President to allow abortion providers to work from federal property have raised concerns among some lawyers.
The White House has thrown cold water on several other progressive ideas to protect abortion access in recent days in the wake of the high court’s ruling. Jean-Pierre has reiterated the President’s stance that he does not favor expanding the Supreme Court and hasn’t changed his stance on eliminating the filibuster.
The Biden administration is looking at several other options to protect access to abortion, including defending access to medication abortion and the right of a woman to travel to another state if the procedure is outlawed in her home state.
Attorney General Merrick Garland said Friday in a statement that states cannot ban Mifepristone — a medication used to end early pregnancy that has FDA approval. And Biden said Friday if any official tries to block a woman from traveling to another state for an abortion, “I will do everything in my power to fight that deeply un-American attack.”
The President has acknowledged there is no unilateral action he can take to restore the nationwide right to an abortion and instead urged Americans to elect more members of Congress in November’s midterm elections who will support legislation protecting abortion access.
“This fall, Roe is on the ballot,” Biden said on Friday, speaking from the White House. “Personal freedoms are on the ballot. The right to privacy, liberty, equality — they’re all on the ballot. Until then, I will do all in my power to protect a woman’s right in states where they will face the consequences of today’s decision.”
Earlier this month, more than 20 Democratic senators sent a letter to Biden outlining several executive actions they wanted to see him take, including using federal property and resources to increase access to abortion services.
The letter said the Department of Justice and other agencies could “analyze the types of reproductive health services that could be provided on federal property” and the Department of Defense “could assess the feasibility of moving military personnel and their families and any authority to ensure that members and their families can access reproductive health care when they need it.”
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York said at a rally in the wake of the decision that Biden could “take the babiest of the babiest of the baby steps: Open abortion clinics on federal lands in red states right now. Right now.”
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