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Biden's HHS Secretary Unveils White House's 'Action Plan' on Abortion Access

Xavier Becerra
Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra (Getty Images)

By    |   Tuesday, 28 June 2022 04:27 PM EDT

Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra unveiled his "action plan" on abortion access Tuesday, in the wake of pro-choice advocates calling on the Biden administration to counter the Supreme Court's overturning of Roe v. Wade (a 5-4 decision) and upholding the Dobbs vs. Jackson Women's Health Organization last week (6-3 vote).

While speaking with reporters, Becerra said there's "no magic bullet" that could restore abortion rights nationwide. However, he said, the White House is working with legal advisers to explore every option.

"Friday's Supreme Court decision was despicable. But it was not unpredictable. HHS has been preparing for this for some time," said Becerra.

As a starting point, Becerra wants federal health agencies to ensure abortion-seekers who become pregnant by rape or incest have protections.

He also reiterated how federal law requires HHS programs to grant abortion pills in exceptional circumstances, such as cases of sexual assault or when the woman's health may be at serious risk.

From Becerra's perspective, that obligation takes precedence over immediate abortion bans in various states — stemming from previous "trigger laws" — that follow the Supreme Court's rulings from last week.

"Five Americans decided to use the vast power bestowed upon them by our democracy and our Constitution to unconscionably put at risk the life and health of millions of our fellow Americans," said Becerra.

Shortly after Becerra questioned the Supreme Court's "power" with American judicial matters, an ABC reporter asked the HHS secretary why the Biden administration didn't have more concrete proposals prepared — if the abortion-related rulings were so predictable.

"We're not interested in going rogue and doing things just because we want to make sure what we tell Americans is accurate — because we hear, we know, a lot Americans are hearing a lot of inaccurate information," said Becerra.

"And so to every American who's impacted: My apologies that, I as I said, we can't tell you there's a silver bullet. But what I am saying to you is that the more we dig, we will do everything we can with what we find to make sure we're protecting women's reproductive health care services.

"It takes a little time because we want to do it right, and we want to do it according to the law."

In states with abortion bans, pregnant women would still be permitted to purchase abortion medications online from international telehealth companies.

Aid Access, one such global abortion provider, recently told CNBC it would continue mailing pills that terminate pregnancies to women in all American states — regardless of existing abortion laws.

Back in 2000, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) first approved the abortion pill mifepristone, which was designed to end pregnancies before the 10th week.

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Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra unveiled his "action plan" on abortion access Tuesday.
white house, biden, abortion, states, roe v wade
Tuesday, 28 June 2022 04:27 PM
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