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On Friday, President Biden signed an executive order doing what it was within his legislative power to protect reproductive rights. This included strengthening privacy on period tracker apps and increasing access to abortion pills. However, activists feel there is more the Biden administration could do. As Politico reports, Biden is considering a public health emergency declaration to make resources available to help with abortion access around the country. However, that move could result in legal resistance and red tape.
Over the weekend, President Biden reiterated the message he said in Friday’s press conference, reiterating he alone “doesn’t have the authority to say that we’re going to reinstate Roe v. Wade as the law of the land.”
Biden has been consistent in his tone, speaking to the importance of the 2022 midterm elections, where the promise of more pro-choice Senators could bypass the filibuster and codify Roe v. Wade into law. ‘Vice President Kamala Harris echoed those thoughts during her Face The Nation’ Sunday appearance.
“You don’t have to advocate or believe that this is right for you or your family, but don’t let the government make the decision for her family, whoever she may be,” the vice president said. “It means state offices, governors, secretaries of state, attorneys general. It means local races, who’s going to be your DA, who’s going to be your sheriff, enforcing laws that are being passed to criminalize medical health providers, and maybe even the women who seek the service.”
Regarding the public health emergency, Biden said he would have his officials “look at whether I have the authority to do that and what impact that would have.” In a New York Times op-ed, Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Tina Smith of Minnesota have both come together to urge President Biden to get this done.
However, as the President looks to an emergency declaration as an option, reps like the White House Gender Policy Council Jen Klein doesn’t even know if one would work as intended.
“When we looked at the public health emergency, we learned a couple things: One is that it doesn’t free very many resources,” she told reporters. “It’s what’s in the public health emergency fund, and there’s very little money — tens of thousands of dollars in it. So that didn’t seem like a great option. And it also doesn’t release a significant amount of legal authority. And so that’s why we haven’t taken that action yet.”