Jul 14, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Scoop: White House hosts mayors on abortion strategy


Photo: Kobi Wolf/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The White House is convening groups of mayors from red and blue states to strategize on how to provide access to abortions after the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Why it matters: President Biden has come under fire from some Democratic lawmakers and progressives for not moving quickly or forcefully enough to use his executive authority to ensure women maintain access to abortions.

Driving the news: Wednesday's meeting with female mayors, hosted by Julie Chavez Rodriguez, the director of Intergovernmental Affairs, and Jennifer Klein, the co-chair of the White House Gender Policy Council, was an opportunity for both sides to share information on all the possible ways to help women maintain access to abortion.

  • "It's useful for other mayors to just hear from one another to learn what each other were doing," a White House official told Axios.
  • "It is kind of 'beg, borrow and steal' from one another, to continue to expand access," the official said.

What's happening: Abortion rights activists and some local officials in red states are wondering what legal options they have, as more than a dozen states look to enforce anti-abortion laws that were triggered by the repeal of Roe.

  • Mayors are also interested in how to protect protesters in their states when local police and state politicians might be hostile to abortion rights.
  • “I need a bat signal at this point for law enforcement,” said Breea Clark from Norman, Oklahoma, who participated on the call even though her mayorship ended last week. "I don't want to report tragedies to the Department of Justice after the fact."
  • "We are the boots on the ground," said Clark. "It’s very important to have a direct line of communication with the White House."

Flashback: After the Supreme Court decision last month, Biden hosted a virtual meeting with governors whose states moved quickly to help protect access to abortion.

The big picture: Biden last week signed an executive order aimed at ensuring access to abortion medication and contraception, as administration officials still ponder other legal avenues to protect abortion access.

  • Overall, since abortion is now a state issue, the executive branch has no authority to prevent states from banning or restricting the procedure.

What to watch: Biden said last weekend he's considering declaring a public health emergency on abortion, although the White House has cautioned it's not "a great option" because doing so "doesn’t free very many resources."

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