Nearly ninety House Democrats signed a letter to President Biden urging him to declare a public health emergency after the Supreme Court rolled back the constitutional right to abortion.
With Republican states racing to outlaw abortion, the 83 legislators called the situation a national “crisis” for women who may need life-saving care if they become pregnant.
“The Supreme Court’s radical and dangerous decision . . . has precipitated a full-scale reproductive health crisis across our nation,” the lawmakers wrote. “It has also plunged our health system into a state of uncertainty and upheaval that threatens patients’ lives.”
The lawmakers, comprising about 40% of the Democratic caucus, want Biden to act much more aggressively to counter the court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade as well as the spreading bans in red states.
“We urge you to also consider the spillover effects of state laws banning abortion on the health systems in neighboring states that protect the legal right to abortion,” the letter says.
The letter also pushes the feds to take steps to ensure access to abortion pills even in states that ban abortion.
The letter, which was also addressed to Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra, was spearheaded by Rep. Lizzie Fletcher and Rep. Lloyd Doggett, both Texas Democrats. Signatories included most of New York City delegation.
There was no immediate response from the White House.
Biden says his administration is committed to doing whatever it can to protect women’s right to choose, within the law.
The president recently directed federal agencies to take steps to protect abortion access, like defending women’s right to cross state lines to get abortion care.
The White House believes its hands are mostly tied because the court effectively handed the right to regulate abortion to the states, about half of which are run by pro-life Republicans.
Some skeptics also believe the emergency declaration may be struck down in court and will need to be enacted only for a limited time, which may defeat its purpose.
Biden says the best way to restore women’s right to choose is by electing more liberal Democrats to Congress who could vote to codify the provisions of Roe v. Wade, the landmark ruling that was in place for more than 50 years.
But there is scant hope of that as Democrats are facing long odds of clinging to their narrow majorities in Congress, let alone expanding them.