Biden Weighs Declaring ‘Public Health Emergency’ Over Abortion Access

President Joe Biden told reporters Sunday that he is pondering declaring a “public health emergency” to enable a federal effort to keep abortions going.

The president said he was talking to his staff about his authority to take such a measure. The announcement last week of an executive order did little to quiet the storm of criticism within Democratic ranks that the White House had done too little to ensure access.

Biden acknowledged the constitutional reality that he does not have the power to countermand the Supreme Court and restore Roe v. Wade. He said, again correctly, that it will take legislation from Congress for that to happen and of course urged voting for more Democrats.

It also followed a Friday comment by the head of the White House Gender Policy Council. Jennifer Klein said in a briefing that the declaration of a public health emergency is on the table.

However, White House officials already expressed concerns that the move is legally dubious and could be ineffective if implemented. It would also unquestionably face multiple legal challenges.

Klein on Friday doubted the effectiveness of declaring a public health emergency over abortion. She noted it only frees up a limited amount of funding and doesn’t present much additional legal authority.

In other words, as she said, it appears to not be “a great option.”

Thousands of abortion supporters rallied in the nation’s Capital Saturday, gathering in Franklin Square before marching to the White House. Organizers called it an act of civil disobedience as the demonstrators congregated in front of the White House fence for a 45-minute sit-in.

The gathering mixed chants of “bans off our bodies” with “stand up Joe Biden.”

Just the day before, Biden signed an executive order within the limits of his authority to uphold abortion. It ensured the Justice Department will defend access to aborton medication and that Medicaid may fund out-of-state travel for women who live where abortion is restricted or banned.

The measure attempted to quiet activists’ protest that the White House was slow to take action after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. As was obvious on Saturday, it had little if any effect.