Patsy Lynch/MediaPunch/IPX Pro-choice and anti-abortion advocates gather June 21 at the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., in anticipation of a ruling possibly overturning the 1973 Roe V Wade deciison, which allowed legal abortions. Patsy Lynch/MediaPunch/IPX
The U.S. government could explore putting abortion clinics on federal land in conservative states and provide travel vouchers for women seeking abortions to travel to states such as Oregon and California.
Those proposals are part of a push by Democratic senators bracing for a potential U.S. Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v. Wade and sending abortion rights and restrictions to the state level.
U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley of Oregon, Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, Patty Murray of Washington and other Democrats want more action from President Joe Biden to protect abortion rights, including actions from “the entirety of the federal government.”
“We need an all-of-government plan to protect reproductive rights. We need the Biden administration to step up to the plate and do everything it possibly can to protect the right to abortion,” said Murray, who wants Biden to order every federal agency to develop plans to protect abortion rights in a post-Roe world.
Wyden is part of a group of Democratic proposing a $1 billion federal push to keep private women’s medical and reproductive health care data in a post-Roe world.
A looming Supreme Court decision in a Mississippi case could unravel Roe and its federal protections for reproductive rights.
That would allow other conservative states, including Idaho, Texas, Florida and Arkansas, to significantly restrict abortions.
Progressive states such as Oregon, Maryland, Washington and California would continue to offer abortions. But abortion rights advocates worry about how poor women, including Indigenous women, women of color and women in rural areas, will access reproductive health care.
The state of Oregon has already put $15 million into a fund to help women from other states with abortion restrictions, including Idaho, travel to the Pacific Northwest to terminate their pregnancies.
Wyden, Merkley and their Democratic cohorts have written to Biden asking him to take executive actions to preserve abortion rights.
“Federal agencies could explore opportunities to provide vouchers for travel, child care services and other forms of support for individuals seeking to access abortion care that is unavailable in their home state,” the Democratic senators said to Biden in a June 8 letter.
They also want Biden to expand access to abortion-inducing medications, strengthen family planning services via Medicaid and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and explore offering “reproductive health services” on federal lands in anti-abortion states.
“The Department of Justice could analyze the types of reproductive health services that could be provided on federal property in states where such services are limited by state law or regulation. The Department of Defense could assess the feasibility of moving military personnel and their families or allowing them to travel to states where they can access reproductive health care,” the senators said in their letter to Biden.
$1 billion push
Wyden is also part of a 10-year, $1 billion Democratic push for wider federal protections of women’s medical and reproductive rights.
Pro-choice advocated worry about conservative states potentially using medical records and data to go after providers and women who have terminated pregnancies.
“When abortion is illegal, researching reproductive health care online, updating a period-tracking app or bringing a phone to the doctor’s office all could be used to track and prosecute women across the U.S.,” Wyden said in a statement. “It amounts to uterus surveillance. Congress must protect Americans’ privacy from abuse by far-right politicians who want to control women’s bodies. I’m proud to work with Senator Warren to introduce the Health and Location Data Protection Act.”
The measure would allocate $1 billion to the Federal Trade Commission to create and enforce rules related to protecting medical and location data related to abortions, gender identity and sexual orientation.
The bill delves into the still relatively new and mostly unregulated realm of collection and sales of people’s online data.
Pushback from the right
U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., has introduced a measure and has promise to push back against White House executive orders supporting abortion rights.
“The real emergency in this country is that thousands of unborn Americans are killed every day,” Rubio said. “It is a cruel and grotesque abuse of presidential power to protect that practice. I wish President Biden and Democrats were as motivated to protect our border, increase energy production and crack down on violent crime as they are to protect the ability for … Planned Parenthood to kill innocent babies. I will do everything I can to protect life and block this outrageous presidential power grab.”
There have been an estimated 63.5 million abortions in the U.S. since 1973, according to the National Right to Life Committee.
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