Aug 26, 2022 - Politics & Policy

State and city leaders meet with Biden on abortion access

President Joe Biden speaks.
President Biden speaks to governors. Photo: Ting Shen/Bloomberg via Getty Image

President Biden met with state and local leaders Friday to discuss what it would take to protect and expand access to abortions and reproductive health care.

Driving the news: Friday is Women’s Equality Day, and the Biden administration marked it as a "day of action" on reproductive rights, focused on bolstering access to reproductive care for women who live in states that are restricting abortion access.

  • Local and state leaders told Biden how their respective states could protect access to abortions and what the federal government could do to help.
  • The event did not include any major policy announcements or updates.

What they said: Biden said he wanted Congress to codify Roe v. Wade, but Democrats lack the votes in the Senate to do so.

  • "I'm optimistic that we will get to a place where we're already making your voices heard," Biden said. He urged people to vote in November.
  • Mayor Elaine O’Neal of Durham, North Carolina, told Biden that more should be done to investigate reproductive rights for men, including talking about getting rid of medications like Viagra and medical procedures for men that "will help them not to contribute to the making of a child."
  • Judge Lina Hidalgo of Harris County, Texas, criticized her state's trigger law that went into effect Thursday.

State of play: The Department of Health and Human Services also invited states to apply for 115 Medicaid waivers to increase the access to reproductive care, according to a letter the department sent Friday.

  • HHS officials stated in the letter that any current or future abortion restriction laws "do not negate providers’ responsibilities to comply with federal laws protecting access to emergency health care."
  • Biden recently signed two executive orders to protect access to reproductive care.

Worth noting: HHS released a report Friday laying out what actions should be taken to help ensure reproductive rights access.

  • The report came in response to Biden's executive order aimed at protecting abortion access after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.
  • "HHS has been and will continue to take concrete action, like today’s invitation to states, that will protect women’s access to reproductive care, including abortion,” HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said in a statement.

Go deeper... Roe v. Wade summary: Supreme Court strikes down Roe v. Wade

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