06.15.22

Murray, Warren to President Biden: We Need an Executive Order to Defend Americans’ Right to an Abortion NOW

***WATCH FULL PRESS CONFERENCE***

  

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senators Patty Murray (D-WA), Chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), led a press conference reiterating their call to President Biden to immediately issue an executive order to defend Americans’ reproductive rights, including their right to an abortion.

 

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 Senator Murray. “Last month, when the draft Supreme Court decision was leaked, I pushed Secretary Becerra on the administration’s plans. I’ll be frank: I was not satisfied with his answer. That’s why, last week, Senator Warren and I led our colleagues in calling on President Biden to immediately issue an executive order instructing every federal agency to develop a plan to protect the right to abortion. We’re not going to sit around quietly waiting for him to act. Fair warning, Mr. President: we’re going to be loud. We’re going to be relentless. Because, Mr. President, we need a plan to protect reproductive rights in America—and we need it now.”

 

“President Biden has called for whole-of-government responses for national priorities like voting rights, racial justice, and promoting competition. With this extremist Supreme Court poised to overturn Roe v. Wade and Republican politicians ready to swoop in with their extremist abortion bans, it’s time for President Biden to mobilize a whole-of-government response to protect abortion rights,” said Senator Warren. “This is a five-alarm fire, and Congress and the President don’t have a second to waste in this moment of crisis.”

 

Last week, Senators Murray and Warren led their Democratic colleagues in urging President Biden to mobilize the full force of the federal government and act to protect the right to an abortion, including by:

  • Increasing access to medication abortion. Federal agencies could take steps to increase the accessibility of medication abortion and ensure the wide availability of accurate information about medication abortion.
  • Providing resources for individuals seeking abortion care in other states. 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.
  • Establishing a reproductive health ombudsman at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). A new ombudsman could educate the public and analyze data collected by HHS about access to reproductive services. For example, this office could gather information about insurers’ coverage of reproductive health services (such as contraception); disseminate information about how individuals could connect with Title X clinics, reproductive health clinics, and abortion funds; and provide the public with safety information related to self-managed abortions outside formal medical settings.
  • Enforcing “Free Choice of Provider” requirements. HHS could explore more aggressively enforcing federal requirements that guarantee Medicaid beneficiaries have the ability to seek family planning services from their provider of choice.
  • Clarifying protections for sensitive health and location data. HHS’s Office for Civil Rights could clarify how websites or mobile applications that collect information related to reproductive health (such as period trackers) should protect personally identifiable information and other sensitive data, especially given the risks presented by the sale of this data in states that criminalize reproductive decision-making.
  • Using federal property and resources to increase access to abortion. The Department of Justice and all relevant agencies could analyze the types of reproductive health services that could be provided on federal property, especially 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 and any authority to ensure that members and their families can access reproductive health care when they need it. The Office of Personnel Management could explore requirements that all federal employees are provided paid time off and reimbursement for expenses necessary to access abortion. And all federal agencies—including those who retain custody or control over individuals or provide healthcare to them—could conduct a review of their regulations and policies that limit abortion care and other reproductive health services and promulgate new regulations that expand access to those services.

 

Senator Murray has long been a leader in Congress in the fight to protect and expand access to reproductive health care and abortion rights. Since the Supreme Court agreed to hear Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, Senator Murray has vowed to fight back and protect Roe v. Wade and everyone’s reproductive rights—including by building support and fighting to hold a vote on the Women’s Health Protection Act, which would protect the right to abortion nationwide. Since the leaked decision revealed that the Supreme Court was planning to overturn Roe, Senator Murray has been a leader in the Senate pushing back: immediately calling the decision a “five alarm fire,” pushing for a vote on WHPA so every Republican Senator was forced to show the American public where they stood and leading her colleagues in the fight to protect everyone’s reproductive rights.

 

Senator Murray has also led the push to urge the Biden Administration to act to protect abortion rights. During a hearing she led in May, Senator Murray pressed Secretary Becerra on the Administration’s plans to protect the right to abortion and noted that, “I have been warning for years that this is Republicans’ goal, and … [people] need to see leadership from the Biden Administration on this too. So I hope to hear more from you today about the Administration’s plan to respond to this latest attack, and protect women’s health because make no mistake: women’s lives are on the line.” During questioning she also pushed for the “whole of government” response that the Biden administration has promised: “When Texas passed its highly restrictive abortion ban, President Biden promised a ‘whole of government’ response and in a statement yesterday he said the Administration will be ready when any ruling is issued. What can you tell us about the Administration’s plan for a ‘whole of government’ response to defend the right to abortion so far?” 

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