Following repeated calls by Democrats for pop up abortion centres to be instituted on federal owned land, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre admitted that any such move would likely put women and providers at risk of prosecution.
As we noted yesterday, the likes of Elizabeth Warren and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez have called for the Biden administration to immediately implement federal abortion services, with Warren suggesting tents could be erected in national parks.
At the weekend, Jean-Pierre said all options were on the table, however during a briefing Tuesday she appeared to dismiss the notion.
“We understand the proposal is well intentioned, but here’s the thing: It could actually put women and providers at risk,” the press Secretary admitted.
“And importantly, in states where abortion is now illegal, women and providers who are not federal employees — as you look at the federal lands — could be — potentially be prosecuted,” she added, noting there may be “dangerous ramifications to doing this.”
Other Democrats, including Kamala Harris have suggested initiating slush funds to pay for women to travel out of state to get later term abortions where they remain legal.
While Biden’s HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra, who has a record of previously supporting ‘at birth’ abortions, also previously suggested the federal land idea and the voucher idea were possible, he also somewhat walked back the notions Tuesday.
Xavier Becerra said his department will “move as aggressively” as possible to ensure that women can still get abortions while “complying with the law.”
While noting that HHS is “aware of a number of ideas and proposals, many of which we have been considering internally,” Becerra added “You want to make sure that what you do is within the confines of the law,” adding that “We are not interested in going rogue and doing things just because. We want to make sure what we tell Americans is accurate.”
“There is no magic bullet,” he added. “But if there is something we can do, we will find it and we will do it at HHS. Indeed, that was the instruction I received from the President of the United States,” Becerra also told reporters.
The federal government owns almost a third of land in the U.S., but is restricted to use it only “primarily related to preservation, recreation, and development of natural resources”, according to a Congressional Research Service study from 2020.