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As the nation continues to grapple with the impact of the United States Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade, several Texas Democrats and abortion advocates have called on the Biden administration to take immediate and direct action to protect Texans’ access to abortion.
First on their list of demands in a letter to the White House was for President Joe Biden to declare a public health emergency to ensure telehealth providers can dispense abortion-inducing drugs without interruption.
“President Biden can provide tremendous support by making sure you can see a health care provider, call them on the phone, talk to them via telehealth, and then have a medical abortion mailed to the state from state where abortion is currently not prohibited,” said Greg Casar, Democratic candidate for Congress. He was part of a group that brought the strategy to Dallas, where the state Democrats were holding their convention. More than 50 state and federal lawmakers, candidates and abortion advocacy groups signed the letter at the White House.
The letter also contained demands for support for abortion funds across the country, increased legal protections for reproductive health care providers, establishment of a program to increase the distribution of abortion drugs, and ‘invoke federal supremacy over state laws that conflict with the Administration-approved Food and Drug Regime for medically induced abortions.
Since the Supreme Court ruling, Biden has spoken of changes at the federal level to address abortion access. He said he supports a change to the US Senate rules on filibuster to help pass legislation legalizing the right to abortion. His administration also provided advice that doctors can perform emergency abortions — that advice is now the subject of a lawsuit filed by the office of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton. On Friday, the United States House of Representatives passed a bill protecting a person’s right to travel interstate for an abortion.
Republican lawmakers in Texas have said that even with the overturning of Roe v. Wade, they still had work to do. They cited a stronger focus on improving state adoption programs and preventing pregnant Texans from leaving the state for abortions.
In asking Biden to declare a public health emergency to protect providers who dispense abortion drugs via telehealth, Texas Democrats and abortion rights advocates said Biden could override the ban by the state. State these treatments after 7 weeks of pregnancy invoking the Public Preparedness and Emergency Preparedness Act. .
The letter also called for support for out-of-state abortion funds and telehealth organizations that can provide abortion medication to Texas residents. Democratic leaders launched a program in which federal government employees could volunteer to dispense medication for abortions. “Because they are federal employees or federal contractors, choosing to do this work, they would actually be immune from state prosecution,” Casar said Saturday.
The End of Roe c. Wade left Texans in a state of uncertainty given the state’s tangled laws regarding reproductive health care. Abortion funds, which help individuals pay for an abortion, have stalled in and out of state. Healthcare professionals have also expressed confusion about the care they can provide, which experts say could lead to patients being turned away or receiving delayed treatment.
Caroline Duble, the political director of Avow Texas, an abortion rights group, called Biden’s support for medical abortion one of the last possible tools for those who cannot travel outside the state. “People in Texas and across the country will continue to need and seek abortions, which in this political landscape will lead to the criminalization and surveillance of pregnant women,” she said.“Like any heightened surveillance, it will hit black and Indigenous people, undocumented immigrants, low-income families, young Texans, and queer and trans people the hardest.”
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