‘No magic bullets’ to protect access to abortion, says Biden’s health secretary

WASHINGTON – President Biden’s health secretary has faced criticism from other Democrats that the administration is not doing enough to deal with the Supreme Court decision overturning Rowe v. Wade, saying Tuesday there is “no magic bullet” to protect access to abortion – even as his department tries to do so. Outlined a series of steps taken.

Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Besser told reporters that under Mr. Biden’s direction, he has instructed his agency to take a number of steps, including that federal programs cover drug abortions in cases of rape or incest or when the mother’s life is threatened.

At a morning press conference, Mr. Besser said his department would work with the judiciary to give women access to abortion pills – two different drugs, taken at 24 to 48 hour intervals and approved for the first 10 weeks of pregnancy – in places where state law applies to the Food and Drug Administration. Conflicting with the verdict, which approved the drugs for use and determined them to be safe and effective.

This will make hospital emergency rooms mandatory to comply with a federal law that stabilizes patients facing a medical emergency – including abortion if necessary. And it will take steps to ensure that patient records are personal, preventing state or local officials from identifying aborted women.

But these measures may not go far enough for progressive Democrats and other advocates for reproductive rights. Some lawmakers, including New York envoy Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, have pressured the administration to build abortion clinics on federal land and to pay for people to travel outside the state for abortion.

They were not among the measures announced by Mr Beser on Tuesday and he issued a warning note about what the administration can and cannot do. She said Dobs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization still has complex legal issues to ensure the administration does not violate court rulings.

“It was a long decision and it set a 50-year precedent, and so you want to make sure that what you are doing is within the bounds of the law,” Mr. Besser said. “We’re not interested in being rogues.”

He called the court’s decision “disgusting” and said at one point he wanted to offer “my apology” that the administration could do nothing more. “There are no magic bullets,” he said, “but if we can do something, we’ll find it and we’ll do it.”

The idea of ​​hosting abortion clinics in federal enclaves, such as military bases and national parks, has been studied by the administration, but remains questionable – where state lawyers have no jurisdiction – in states where abortion is now a crime.

According to officials familiar with the internal negotiations, the problem is that the federal government has not been able to ensure that federal employees are not performing government duties – and potential patients – will not be at risk of litigation. White House Press Secretary Karin Jean-Pierre on Tuesday rejected the idea, telling reporters at Air Force One that it could have “dangerous effects” for women and doctors.

If a Republican wins the presidency in 2024, his judiciary can prosecute people for the crime of state-law abortion – and the rule of limitation for charging conduct prior to 2022 will not expire. States can strip doctors of their medical licenses. And state prosecutors may try to prosecute people for related behavior outside the enclave – such as helping women get there – under the guise of helping and persuading or conspiring.

Providing financial assistance to women to cross the state line for abortion can also be problematic for the administration, as it violates the so-called Hyde Amendment, which prohibits the use of federal funds to pay for abortions except in cases of rape or incest. , Or where the mother’s life is at risk. On Tuesday, Mr Beser was asked if the Department of Health and Human Services could provide such financial assistance.

Once officials find out “exactly what we believe we are capable of doing, and have the money to do, we will let you know,” he said. “But until then, all I can tell you is: every option is on the table.”

One area where the administration can work is to ensure that women have access to emergency contraceptives তথ the so-called Morning-After Pill, also known as Plan B এবং and to pregnant women. Both are common methods of contraception, but abortion opponents consider them “abortionists” and have tried to limit their access to certain states.

Some family-planning clinics in the state that are banning abortions say their supply of Plan B is declining because women are stockpiling pills that they fear will be illegal. Hailey Kramer, a nurse practitioner at Tri-Reverse Family Planning in Rolla, Mote, said Monday that the clinic’s supplier had jumped in with growing demand and the pills had been back-ordered since a draft of Rowe’s reversal opinion was last leaked. Months

Mr Bessara added that he had instructed Medicare and Medicaid service centers to take action against states, including Missouri, which excluded planned parents from Medicaid family planning programs, a major birth control provider that reimbursed for such services.

“We will make it clear that family planning providers are able to participate in the Medicaid program,” he said.

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