Topline

Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra doesn’t believe the Supreme Court’s recent decision to overturn Roe v. Wade and roll back five decades of abortion rights in the U.S. “is going to stand long,” he said Sunday on NBC’s Meet the Press, as the federal government seeks to keep abortion accessible even as some states outlaw the procedure.

Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra answers questions at a Senate Health, … [+] Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing on September 30, 2021 in Washington, DC.

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Key Facts

While the Biden Administration will continue to “heed the word of the Supreme Court,” the federal government is working to find “every avenue possible” to make sure Americans can access abortion care, Becerra said.

Becerra acknowledged the five conservative Supreme Court justices who voted to overturn Roe were unlikely to reverse their own ruling, and that alternate routes would have to be taken to keep abortion accessible.

However, he offered few details on how the Biden Administration will respond, instead saying there “are a lot of partners, public and private, who are looking into this.”

Key Background

Since the Supreme Court overturned Roe more than a week ago, several Republican-run states have banned or sharply restricted abortion, leading Democrats to search for ways to keep the procedure legal. Some congressional Democrats have sought to codify abortion rights into federal law, but the idea has faced obstacles in the Senate. President Joe Biden has signaled his support for making an exception to the Senate’s 60-vote filibuster rule so Senate Democrats can pass legislation to codify abortion rights, but moderate Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin (W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.)have said they do not support amending the Senate’s filibuster rules. During a rally in New York the day the Roe was overturned, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) raised the possibility of creating abortion clinics on federal land located in states that have rolled back abortion rights, calling the move “the babiest of the babiest of the baby steps.” However, Vice President Kamala Harris said days later the White House was not considering the option, saying instead the Biden Administration was focusing on expanding access to FDA-approved abortion medication “to the extent that we can.”

What To Watch For

On the state level, Democratic politicians and abortion providers like Planned Parenthood have filed lawsuits to challenge abortion bans in states like Texas, Idaho, Wisconsin, West Virginia, Oklahoma and Mississippi, and have temprarily blocked bans in Louisiana and several other states.

Tangent

A poll released last week found that the share of Americans who think abortion and women’s rights should be among the government’s top five priorities has almost tripled in the past six months, jumping from 8% in December to 22% last week.

Further Reading

Americans’ Support For Government Action On Abortion Surges After Roe V. Wade Decision, Poll Finds (Forbes)

Biden: Senate Should Break Filibuster To Codify Abortion Rights Into Law (Forbes)

Ohio Supreme Court Lets Abortion Ban Stand—Here’s Where State Lawsuits Stand Now (Forbes)

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