(WASHINGTON) — President Joe Biden on Friday met virtually with Democratic governors to talk reproductive health care amid some party disappointment over the administration’s response to the overturning of Roe v. Wade.
New York’s Kathy Hochul provided a list to Biden of potential actions, including additional funding for family planning services more broadly so that providers can focus private dollars for abortion services.
Hochul also asked Biden to give more consideration to his ability to “use federal facilities” for abortion care — a move the White House has said would have “dangerous ramifications.”
“What am I talking about? Veterans hospitals, military bases and other places where the federal government controls the jurisdiction in some of the states that are hostile to women’s rights, and make sure that those services can be available to other women,” Hochul suggested.
New Mexico’s Lujan Grisham said she agreed “wholeheartedly” with Hochul’s assessment that there are more federal opportunities to protect women’s access to care, and suggested Indian Health Service clinic and sovereign tribal nations could be another avenue for Biden to pursue.
The president on Friday again decried the Supreme Court’s decision ending 50 years of abortion rights as “terrible.”
“I share the public outrage at this extremist court that’s committed to moving America backwards with fewer rights, less autonomy,” he said as he spoke with state leaders from the White House’s South Court Auditorium.
Biden also touted some steps he’s taken in the aftermath of the Roe decision, such as instructing the Justice Department to protect women traveling out-of-state for care and Health and Human Services to ensure access to federally-approved medication such as contraception and the abortion pill mifepristone.
But some Democrats say the administration should have been better prepared for Roe’s fall, given the decision released by the high court on June 24 was leaked in early May.
Washington Sen. Patty Murray expressed frustration that the Biden team wasn’t ready, telling ABC News on Monday that Biden should do “absolutely everything in his power to protect access to abortion in America.”
Other governors in attendance for the virtual roundtable were New Mexico’s Michelle Lujan Grisham, Connecticut’s Ned Lamont, Colorado’s Jared Polis, Illinois’ J.B. Pritzker, Washington’s Jay Insee, Oregon’s Kate Brown and Rhode Island’s Daniel McKee.
Their states have moved to protect women’s access to reproductive health care before and after the high court’s decision.
In Connecticut, Gov. Lamont signed a new law strengthening abortion rights. The law, which also includes protections for medical providers and patients traveling from out of state seeking abortion, went into effect today.
Hochul has instructed the state legislature to add equal rights to the agenda of their special, stating that after today lawmakers will be a step closer to enshrining abortion rights in the state constitution.
“The rights of millions of women across this country are now falling on the shoulders of just a handful of states,” Hochul said.
In addition to urging more action from Biden, some of the governors in attendance also called on Congress to make Roe federal law by passing the Women’s Health Protection Act.
The president yesterday called for a carveout in the Senate filibuster to codify Roe, but acknowledged on Friday that he didn’t have the votes.
Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., view of the filibuster remains “unchanged,” her spokesperson told ABC News. Fellow moderate Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., is also unlikely to support changes to the rule, telling reporters he wants to see a bipartisan solution.
Biden said Friday the American people need to elect more Democrats to the House and Senate to “get this bill to my desk.”
Biden predicted that a Republican-controlled Congress would try to pass a total ban on abortion.
“So the choice is clear: We either elect federal senators and representatives who will codify Roe, or Republicans who will elect the House and Senate will try to ban abortions nationwide,” Biden said.
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