Pushed by abortion activists and Democratic lawmakers, President Joe Biden’s administration is reportedly considering declaring a public health emergency on abortion as a response to the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision.
“There are discussions on a wide range of measures … that we can take to try to protect people’s rights,” Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra told Axios on Monday.
“There are certain criteria that you look for to be able to declare a public health emergency,” he added. “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 a statement to The Daily Signal, Republican Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul warned against this move.
“The Biden Administration is considering a Public Health Emergency on Abortion that some advocates hope will preempt state laws protecting the unborn,” he said. “Such a move would clearly violate the Dobbs decision sending the abortion debate back to the states and, therefore, clearly be unconstitutional.”
Democratic lawmakers and abortion supporters have pushed the Biden administration and the Department of Health and Human Services to declare such a public health emergency and issue a national emergency declaration.
“The Supreme Court’s radical and dangerous decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health
Organization has precipitated a full-scale reproductive health crisis across our nation,” Democrats told Biden and Becerra in July. “It has also plunged our health system into a state of uncertainty and upheaval that threatens patients’ lives.”
“We respectfully urge you to quickly issue a National Emergency and Public Health Emergency
declaration and use your authority under the PREP Act to protect abortion access.”
Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America President Marjorie Dannenfelser reacted to the report Tuesday, accusing Democrats of “pro-abortion extremism” that “knows no bounds.”
“They think allowing more Americans to be born is a crisis, and the only solution is ending those lives through abortion for any reason up until birth,” she said. “Their latest scheme would result in taxpayer-funded abortion on demand across the country with no protections whatsoever for unborn children or their mothers—including dangerous mail-order abortion drugs that put women at risk of serious complications.”
HHS did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Daily Signal.
A spokesperson told Axios that the department is “constantly exploring additional actions we can take to protect and expand access to reproductive health care, including abortion care, and are prioritizing the actions that can give us the highest impact and most durable solutions.”
Asked in July if the White House would declare a public health emergency for abortion, Director of the White House Gender Policy Council Jen Klein said that such a move wouldn’t free up many resources and “didn’t seem like a great option.”
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
“Friday’s Supreme Court decision was despicable, but it was also predictable,” Becerra said in June. “HHS has been preparing for this for some time. That’s why, earlier this year, we launched our HHS Reproductive Access Task Force to plan for every action necessary to protect women’s access to reproductive health care.”
The Justice Department similarly announced the establishment of a Reproductive Rights Task Force “to identify ways to protect access to reproductive health care” shortly after the momentous June decision.
“As Attorney General [Merrick] Garland has said, the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision is a devastating blow to reproductive freedom in the United States,” Associate Attorney General Vanita Gupta said at the time. “The court abandoned 50 years of precedent and took away the constitutional right to abortion, preventing women all over the country from being able to make critical decisions about our bodies, our health, and our futures. The Justice Department is committed to protecting access to reproductive services.”
Gupta would go on to say in December that the overturn of Roe increased “the urgency” of the DOJ’s enforcement of the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act, “to ensure continued lawful access to reproductive services.”
The Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division enforces the FACE Act, which “prohibits threats of force, obstruction and property damage intended to interfere with reproductive health care services.”
It protects both pro-life pregnancy centers and abortion clinics.
At least 98 Catholic churches and 80 pregnancy resource centers and other pro-life organizations have been attacked since May, according to a CatholicVote tracker. Until last month, when the DOJ charged two radical activists with the FACE Act, the DOJ had not charged a single person in connection with these attacks.
Meanwhile, the DOJ’s Civil Rights Division charged at least 26 pro-life individuals with FACE Act violations in 2022.
Pregnancy resource centers are typically run by pro-life women who seek to offer expectant mothers alternatives to abortion. Such centers provide diapers, baby clothes, and resources for both mothers and fathers, empowering them to care for their child, overcome addictions, build community, and find jobs.
Editors note: This story has been updated to include a statement from Republican Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul.
Have an opinion about this article? To sound off, please email letters@DailySignal.com and we’ll consider publishing your edited remarks in our regular “We Hear You” feature. Remember to include the url or headline of the article plus your name and town and/or state.