Biden health secretary promises access to medical abortion

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President Joe Biden’s top health official said Tuesday that “all options are on the table” when it comes to helping women access abortion in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade.

But the administration’s options are limited despite its strong criticism of the Supreme Court’s decision on Friday. Biden called the ruling “a sad day for court and country.” Xavier Becerra, Secretary of Health and Human Services. on Tuesday he called it “despicable.”

The decision puts abortion rights square in the middle of the November elections, both for Congress and in the states.

In a press conference on Tuesday, Becerra acknowledged that “there was no magic bullet” to guarantee access to abortion for those who want it. But he promised that “if there’s anything we can do, we’ll find it and we’ll do it at HHS.”

He said the administration would work to ensure medical abortions remain available, patient privacy is preserved and family planning care such as emergency contraception is protected.

“Medication abortion has been approved by the FDA for years and is safe for patients,” he said. “It is the gold standard for care when a pregnant woman experiences a miscarriage, which is all too real for many pregnant women across the country.”

The HHS secretary noted that federal law requires medical abortions to be performed in cases of rape or incest or to protect the life of the mother. “Now more than ever, it is imperative that all programs and services supported by the federal government comply with the law,” he said.

Becerra said she also wants her department to review its authority to ensure that the judgment of doctors and hospitals is upheld in treating pregnant patients, “including those experiencing pregnancy loss or complications, and reaffirm that abortion care can be appropriate.” to stabilize patients.

Despite the ruling, he said, “rights go forward, whether it’s family planning, whether it’s birth control services, and we want to make sure there are no misunderstandings and that we will enforce any violation of those rights.”

Asked if the administration was considering establishing abortion clinics on federal land, as some Democrats have suggested, Becerra did not rule it out, saying a decision had not yet been made.

“All options are on the table,” he said. “We will take a look at everything we can, and everything we do will comply with the law.”

But White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters such an option could put women and care providers who are not federal employees at risk of prosecution in states where abortion is now illegal.

Jean-Pierre, speaking aboard Air Force One, where Biden was flying between summits in Germany and Spain, called that proposal “well-intentioned” but also noted that “there really are dangerous ramifications to doing this.”

Becerra was also asked Tuesday about the possibility of providing transportation to women who travel to another state to get an abortion and how the administration would ensure that it does not conflict with the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits federal funding for abortions. abortions except in cases of rape. , incest or to protect the life of the mother.

“Once we tell you exactly what we think we can do, have the money to do, we’ll let you know,” he said.

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