Biden vows to protect abortion pill access in meeting with governors

President Biden on Friday pledged to protect abortion pill access, telling Democratic governors in a virtual meeting Friday that the fight for abortion access is “not over.” The meeting comes one week after the Supreme Court ruled that abortion is not a constitutional right

The president gave brief remarks and listened to nine governors — Gov. Kathy Hochul of New York, Gov. Roy Cooper of North Carolina, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham of New Mexico, Gov. Ned Lamont of Connecticut, Gov. Jared Polis of Colorado, Gov. J.B. Pritzker of Illinois, Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington, Gov. Kate Brown of Oregon and Gov. Daniel McKee of Rhode Island. 

“I share the public outrage about this extremist court that’s committed to moving America backwards,” the president said Friday. “… But as I said last week, this is not over.”

The president said his administration will act to protect the “bedrock rights” of women traveling to other states for abortion services. And the administration will protect women’s access to medical abortion pills the Food and Drug Administration has approved for decades, he said. 

“If states try to block a woman from getting medication the FDA has already approved and that has been available for more than 20 years, my administration will act and protect that woman’s right to that medication,” the president told governors Friday. 

The president acknowledged he lacks sufficient votes in the Senate to eliminate the filibuster to codify federal abortion rights at the moment. He said the party needs more votes in the Senate in the midterm elections to get a bill to his desk. 

Mr. Biden warned the impact of the court’s ruling on Roe could reach beyond abortion and referenced the future of same-sex marriages and privacy. 

Hochul, the first governor to speak, said New York is “prepared to serve as a destination” and “safe harbor” for women. 

Hochul said just a “handful of states” will now be responsible for reproductive rights care of American women. She urged the Biden administration to use Veterans Administration hospitals and military bases for abortion services in states with prohibitions. 

Mr. Biden responded to Hochul by pivoting back to the need to get “people to vote,” arguing it’s likely a Republican Congress would pass a nationwide ban on abortion. 

Cooper said North Carolina is already “seeing an influx” of women seeking abortion services, and many more are expected. 

“Where you live will determine your rights,” he said. 

Grisham called efforts in her neighboring states to restrict and ban abortions “draconian,” focusing on Texas in particular. She also said her state is seeing an increase in women from out of state seeking abortion-related services. She suggested using Indian Health Service facilities to provide abortion services in some states. 

Kathryn Watson contributed to this report. 

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