Biden stated that his administration would protect and defend Roe v Wade's rights, but did not specify what steps the White House would take. The White House and Congress have been in touch with abortion rights advocates and they are urging them to come up with a strategy to respond to Roe v Wade's threat. This is especially important as the Supreme Court prepares to formally reconsider and possibly overturn Roe v Wade later in the year, when it hears arguments about Mississippi's 15-week abortion ban.
After the Supreme Court declined to rule on an urgent petition filed by Texas abortion clinics, the Texas state law went into effect Wednesday morning. The new law bans abortion after six week gestation and allows Texas citizens to sue anyone who facilitates the procedure.
The Supreme Court could still block state law in the next days. However, Wednesday's decision renewed calls to change the composition of the court and raised questions about the White House and Democrats' possible actions.
Jen Psaki, White House press secretary, said that any Justice Department action to address abortion laws would be taken independently by the department. Psaki said that President Obama would continue to push for Roe codification through Congress.
However, some Democratic legislators acknowledged that it was unlikely that legislation to allow abortion access would be supported by the equally divided Senate.
Rep. Judy Chu (D.Calif.), who introduced House Bill protecting abortion access as set out in Roe, asked the White House for help to convince enough senators to support it.
Chu stated that it is important for the White House and other government agencies to weigh in on this matter. We will need their support to win the votes on the Senate side. We will need all the resources we can get, but our President Biden is the most powerful voice on land.
Biden's criticism of the law was harsh. He said it would greatly impair womens access, especially for those with low incomes. This is a change of tone that many progressive advocates and lawmakers have welcomed.
Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D.N.Y.) said that this is the first time the President's Office has used the word abortion. The White House must continue to play an active role in protecting abortion rights in the United States. It should also harness all resources to demand passage of The Women's Health Protection Act (the Hyde Amendment)
Psaki stated that the president would continue to press Congress to act, and added that there is no doubt White House officials will be discussing the decision with congressional staffers and members.
Even if the Democratic majority of the House passed legislation allowing abortion access to be codified, the Senate is a significant obstacle.
Can we reach 60 senators? Jackie Speier, a Democratic California Representative, stated that the Texas decision basically tells women that they have no control over their bodies.
Speier joked that every man who conceives one of these women should be you-know-what removed. Speier said that the Supreme Court's future decision is the best recourse.
She said that the court's inability to stand up to such a challenge probably requires a rethinking the Supreme Court, as we know it today.
A growing number Democrats are calling for a change in the Supreme Court's number of justices to counter its conservative tendencies. However, Biden opposed this idea during his presidential campaign.
Before making any changes to his position, the president will wait for feedback from the Supreme Court reform commission that was established by White House earlier in this year.
It is not clear if the Justice Department will respond to state restrictions on abortion access, or the Supreme Court's plans to reexamine Roe. The Congressional Progressive Caucus urged Attorney General Merrick Garland, the Justice Department's Chief of Staff, to investigate any possible steps.
While the Biden administration is not known for its abortion work, it has taken many major steps to reverse Trump's restrictions. Biden's first months in office saw the removal of restrictions on abortion pills and funding bans for Planned Parenthood, as well as international groups that offer abortion referrals. He also removed obstacles to medical research using fetal tissue from abortions.
The White House is being urged to use its regulatory and bully pulpit more aggressively in the wake of the Supreme Court's decisions. Abortion rights advocates who have been closely working with the administration are pushing the White House to do more to protect abortion rights. Destiny Lopez, co-president for All* Above All, stated that two demands are made for the FDA to remove restrictions on abortion pills being distributed by telemedicine. Biden should also push Congress to pass the Women's Health Protection Act (and EACH Woman Act) bills. These bills would prevent states from passing laws similar to Texas and give federal funding to those with low incomes who wish to have the procedure.
What I also found in [Bidens' statement] was that they are deeply committed to this issue, and that they now recognize that Roe is not sufficient. It was never enough to make sure that everyone can access abortion care wherever and whenever they need it. Now we must work together with the administration to develop a strategy.