A group of elected Democrats and abortion rights groups are calling on President Joe Biden to intervene to allow telehealth medical abortions in Texas.
A letter signed by more than 50 U.S. Representatives, Senators and State Representatives from Texas and abortion advocacy groups explain five legal strategies they think the Biden administration could adopt to override the laws of the state of Texas that bans nearly all abortions.
The group focuses on telehealth medical abortions, which are approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
Even before Roe’s fall against Wade last month, Texas and 18 other states had laws banning telehealth medical abortions, according to the Guttmacher Institute. In Texas, medical abortions are prohibited from seven weeks of pregnancy and the patient must be in the physical presence of the person who makes the prescription.
Here are the actions the group is asking Biden to do:
- Declare a public health emergency to protect telehealth abortion providers.
- Support telehealth providers and abortion funds.
- Establish a program for providers who are federal employees or contractors to volunteer to provide abortions through telehealth.
- Use federal supremacy to override Texas law that prohibits the use of FDA-approved medical abortion.
- Protect suppliers inside and outside of Texas from state lawsuits.
Greg Casar, a Democratic candidate for the 35th congressional district, led the charge in strategizing.
“While we know many Texans will be forced to travel out of state, we know that most working-class Texans are unable to take multiple days off and travel the hundreds of miles required to access their basic right,” Casar said. said.
He said the executive branch has federal jurisdiction over mail and FDA-approved drugs to intervene.
“I think it’s up to the Biden administration to challenge these unconstitutional laws and protect vendors who send federally approved drugs through federal mail,” he said.
Casar was joined by former State Senator Wendy Davis, U.S. Representatives Sylvia Garcia and Al Green, and several other lawmakers and abortion advocacy groups at a press conference announcing the group’s proposal to the Texas Democratic Convention in Dallas.
Davis, who won national recognition in 2013 for obstructing abortion rights, said Texans are being denied the resources to travel out of state for abortions and, in some cases, are denied abortions because providers fear legal liability.
“I’m very happy and proud to have worked with those here today to put in place what we know is a way forward to help Texans at this time of crisis,” Davis said.
Biden has already taken executive action to protect abortion access. The president issued an executive order on July 7 that took limited action, including expanding access to contraception.
He also said he was considering declaring a public health emergency, which would free up federal resources for abortion access.
The administration also issued guidelines to hospitals last week, saying federal regulations require hospitals to perform abortions if necessary to save a woman’s life.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton challenged the administration’s order, saying it would turn “every emergency room in the country into a walk-in abortion clinic.”
Caroline Duble, political director of the advocacy organization Avow Texas, said there would certainly be legal challenges to any executive action Biden takes on abortion in Texas.
“We fully expect it, which means it could be delayed or caught up in the courts,” Duble said. “But by taking this action, the Biden administration would show us that he is ready to take immediate action and reach out in this absolute public health crisis and this urgency to do all he can to support Texans. right now.”