White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said on Tuesday that the Biden administration will not consider a far-left proposal to provide abortion services on federal land in states where the procedure is now illegal, after the Supreme Court abortion ruling last week.
“[W]e understand the proposal is well-intentioned, but here’s the thing: It could actually put women and providers at risk. And importantly, in states where abortion is now illegal, women and providers who are not federal employees, as you look at the federal land, could potentially be prosecuted,” Jean-Pierre said in a press briefing.
“As we understand why they would put forward this proposal, there’s actually dangerous ramifications to doing this,” she added.
The Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last Friday, which means that abortion laws are now fully in the control of states. Thirteen states have trigger laws on the books, while other conservative states have similarly restrictive laws. Some of these trigger bans, like in Louisana and Texas, are being blocked in court at the moment. On the flip side, Tennessee just had its 2020 injunction vacated for its six-week abortion ban because of the overruling, The Tennesseean reports.
The White House is responding to voices on the far-left, like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York), who said in a speech Friday night, Fox News reported: “Yeah, I’ll start with the babiest of the babiest of baby steps. Open abortion clinics on federal lands in red states right now!”
Jean-Pierre is not the first White House official to brush the idea aside, as Vice President Kamala Harris told CNN’s Dana Bash they were not considering the proposal on Monday.
This is a “broken clock” moment for the administration, as the concept is not realistic. The press secretary also said in a briefing Saturday that President Joe Biden does not support getting rid of the Senate filibuster and packing the Supreme Court, according to The Hill. Moderates in the Senate like Sen. Krysten Sinema (D-Ariz.) and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) really hold the power in those scenarios, but the president’s lack of support speaks volumes as well. Both of these remarks from the press secretary revealed that the White House knows that its hands are tied–and its options are extremely limited.
The Supreme Court made its decision, and there are only so many shortcuts that the Executive Branch can take to ignore them.
Setting up abortion clinics on federal land would put the states in an odd position in terms of enforcement, which is why the White House calls it “dangerous” in their view. The federal government owns 28 percent of land in the United States, but its uses are “primarily related to preservation, recreation, and development of natural resources”, according to a Congressional Research Service study from 2020.
Sensible people are both sides of the argument should understand that state laws should be respected, and if people want to see policy change, they’ll use the democratic processes this country provides to do so.