HHS weighs declaring access to abortion a “public health emergency’
In response to the overturn of Roe v. Wade, the Department of Health and Human Services is weighing the possibility of declaring a “public health emergency” more evidence of a concerted effort by the Biden administration to expand abortion access nationwide.
“There are discussions on a wide range of measures … that we can take to try to protect people’s rights,” HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra told Axios at the end of January. “There are certain criteria that you look for to be able to declare a public health emergency. That’s typically done by scientists and those that are professionals in those fields who will tell us whether we are in a state of emergency and based on that, I have the ability to make a declaration.”
In other words, while the department isn’t sure it has the justification to declare an “emergency,” it sure would like to do so. Such a declaration could make it easier to distribute abortion pills, though it would likely face a judicial challenge, which is probably why the White House dismissed the idea last year.
Whether or not it chooses to declare an emergency, HHS is “constantly exploring additional actions we can take to protect and expand access to reproductive health care, including abortion care,” a department spokesperson told Axios.
So, it seems, is the rest of the Biden administration. This announcement is just the latest in a string of pro-abortion moves by advocates in the White House and beyond.
Last fall, President Joe Biden indicated that he would support federal funds to help women have abortions, a remarkable reversal of bipartisan precedent. A month earlier, the Department of Veterans Affairs released a statement announcing that it would provide abortion access to women even where it’s illegal “when the life or health of the pregnant Veteran would be endangered if the pregnancy were carried to term, or when the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest.”(No matter that life and health-of-the-mother exceptions already exist in pro-life laws across the country.)
The Biden administration has also greatly expanded access to chemical abortions by allowing abortion pills to be sent to women by mail and permitting drugstores such as CVS and Walgreens to sell them over the counter.
Currently, the “White House is jumping into state-level battles for women’s reproductive rights, lending legal and messaging advice to allies in states pushing restrictions,” Reuters reports, “as the Biden administration seeks to make abortion access a rallying cry in next year’s presidential election.”
With a divided Congress, it’s unlikely that abortion-related legislation will be passed anytime soon. But what pro-abortion politicians can’t accomplish legislatively, they’re intent on doing through the unaccountable administrative state. Biden needs to know his radical pro-abortion agenda is not popular, and that voters will remember it come the next election.