Biden says he’s considering health emergency for abortion access

REHOBOTH BEACH, Del. (AP) — President Joe Biden said Sunday he is considering declaring a public health emergency to free up federal resources to promote access to abortion, even though the White House has said that it didn’t seem like “a great option”.

He also sent a message to those enraged by last month’s Supreme Court ruling that ended a constitutional right to abortion and who demonstrated across the country: “Keep protesting. Keep making your point. It is extremely important.

The president, in remarks to reporters during a stop on a bike ride near his family’s beach house in Delaware, said he had no power to force the dozen States with strict restrictions or outright bans on abortion allow the procedure.

“I don’t have the authority to say we’re going to reinstate Roe v. Wade as the law of the land,” he said, referring to the 1973 Supreme Court decision that established a nationwide right to ‘abortion. Biden said Congress should codify this right and that for it to have a better chance in the future, voters should elect more lawmakers who support abortion access.

Biden said his administration was trying to do “a lot of things to respect women’s rights” after the decision, including considering declaring a public health emergency to free up federal resources. Such a move has been pushed by advocates, but White House officials have questioned both its legality and effectiveness, and noted it would almost certainly face legal challenges.

The president said he asked officials “to see if I have the authority to do this and what impact it would have.”

On Friday, Jen Klein, director of the White House Gender Policy Council, said that “didn’t seem like a good option.”

“When we looked at the public health emergency, we learned two things: One is that it doesn’t free up a lot of resources,” she told reporters. “That’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 good option. And it doesn’t release a significant amount of legal authority either. And that’s why we haven’t taken that step yet.

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Associated Press writer Zeke Miller in Washington contributed to this report.

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