White House considers executive action, legislation from Congress to codify abortion rights

A draft majority opinion was leaked out of the Supreme Court in early May that appeared to indicate that the court would overturn the precedents set on abortion rights by 1973’s Roe v. Wade and 1992’s Planned Parenthood v. Casey decisions, which would revert the right to regulate abortion back to the individual states.

Such a move is unacceptable to abortion-supporting Democrats, especially in President Joe Biden’s White House, and discussions are being held about how best to counter such an adverse ruling for their agenda, including through congressional action or the use of executive orders, the Washington Examiner reported.

“Need Congress to take action to restore Roe

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre intimated as much during Thursday’s press briefing when she addressed the potential for the Supreme Court to strike down prior abortion rights precedents while upholding a pro-life law in Mississippi that bans most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy.

“The administration continues to explore every possible option in response to the anticipated Supreme Court decision,” the president’s chief spokeswoman told reporters.

However, in an acknowledgment of just how limited and non-binding executive actions can be, Jean-Pierre placed the onus to fully address the issue on the legislature, and said, “If the Supreme Court overturns Roe, we will need Congress to take action to restore Roe.”

Possible executive orders and legislation

That doesn’t mean that no executive actions will be taken by the White House, as The Hill reported last week how President Biden himself referenced that possibility during an interview with late-night TV host Jimmy Kimmel.

“There’s some executive orders I could employ, we believe. We’re looking at that right now,” the president said, though he declined to provide any details about what those potential executive orders might actually entail.

Biden did reference Congress as being part of a solution as well, in that he urged voters to elect pro-abortion Democrats instead of pro-life Republicans so that legislation to protect and expand abortion rights could be passed into federal law.

Perhaps more concerning was the president’s allusion to a potential “revolution” of violence and unrest if Roe is struck down, as he told Kimmel, “It’s clear that if, in fact, the decision comes down the way it does and these states impose the limitations they’re talking about, it’s going to cause a mini-revolution and they’re going to vote a lot of these folks out of office.”

Congress already acted and fell short

What Biden told Kimmel is not dissimilar from what the president said in a May 3 statement issued immediately after the draft opinion had been leaked, in which he voiced his full-throated support for the right of women to kill their unborn babies.

“If the Court does overturn Roe, it will fall on our nation’s elected officials at all levels of government to protect a woman’s right to choose. And it will fall on voters to elect pro-choice officials this November,” Biden said at that time. “At the federal level, we will need more pro-choice Senators and a pro-choice majority in the House to adopt legislation that codifies Roe, which I will work to pass and sign into law.”

Except, as the Examiner noted, both the House and Senate have already held votes on legislation to not just codify but greatly expand upon Roe, but while such measures were easily passed in the Democrat-controlled House, it didn’t even receive majority support in the evenly-split Senate.

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