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Report: Biden Admin Evaluating Public Health Emergency Declaration On Abortion

  The   Biden administration   is considering a public health emergency declaration regarding   abortion , according to a recent report. The...

 The Biden administration is considering a public health emergency declaration regarding abortion, according to a recent report.

The Monday report by Axios cited Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra.

“There are discussions on a wide range of measures … that we can take to try to protect people’s rights,” HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra told the outlet.

He was asked about a public health emergency declaration on the topic of abortion, and responded, “There are certain criteria that you look for to be able to declare a public health emergency. 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.”

Becerra noted that there has not been a “full assessment” of what such a declaration would be like and if it is needed, but there is nonetheless “an evaluation” of it. 

An HHS spokesperson also told the outlet, “We are 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.”

This is not the first time the administration has thought about going down this road, but the HHS Secretary ultimately makes the call on a public health emergency declaration. Since the Supreme Court ruled to overturn Roe v. Wade last summer and returned the matter of abortion back to the states, President Joe Biden and Becerra have been pressed to take action on the matter.

Last July, Democratic legislators wrote a letter to Biden and Becerra, asking them to put forward a National Emergency declaration, as well as a “Public Health Emergency declaration on abortion access.”

The letter included allegations regarding so-called reproductive health care in the United States, claiming that the “Supreme Court’s radical and dangerous decision … has precipitated a full-scale reproductive health crisis across our nation.” 

“It has also plunged our health system into a state of uncertainty and upheaval that threatens patients’ lives,” the lawmakers alleged.

Last summer, as Politico reported, the White House was considering issuing a public health order that would allow people across the country to still be able to obtain abortion pills. 

Around the same time, the president also told health authorities to examine if his administration could legally put forward a public health emergency and what the effect would be. 

“When we looked at the public health emergency, we learned a couple things. One is that it doesn’t free very many resources. It’s what’s in the public health emergency fund, and there’s very little money — tens of thousands of dollars in it,” Jen Klein, director of the White House Gender Policy Council, told the press at the time. “So that didn’t seem like a great option. And it also doesn’t release a significant amount of legal authority. And so that’s why we haven’t taken that action.”

Axios also pointed out that an emergency declaration would probably be fought in court.

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