WASHINGTON — The White House signaled Monday that it is not pursuing a Senate Democratic proposal that says the Biden administration could offer abortion services on federal lands following the Supreme Court‘s ruling last week that overturned Roe v. Wade.
Just days after the Supreme Court ruled to strike down the landmark 1973 decision that guaranteed abortion rights nationwide, a White House official told NBC News that the Democratic proposal was “well-intentioned” but “could put women and providers at risk.”
“Importantly, in states where abortion is now illegal, women and providers who are not federal employees could be potentially be prosecuted,” the official said.
Vice President Kamala Harris on Monday also downplayed the proposal in a CNN interview.
“It’s not, right now, what we are discussing,” Harris said.
Ahead of Friday’s Supreme Court ruling, a group of more than two dozen Democratic senators sent a letter to President Joe Biden urging him to issue an executive order directing federal agencies to map out a plan to ensure protections for abortion services where possible.
In the June 7 letter, the group of 25 senators suggested the Justice Department “could analyze the types of reproductive health services that could be provided on federal property, especially in states where such services are limited by state law or regulation.”
Among those who signed the letter were Sens. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan and Sherrod Brown of Ohio. Michigan has an anti-abortion law that was on the books but unenforceable after the 1973 Roe decision, while Ohio is one of the 13 states with so-called trigger laws, which were designed to snap into effect immediately or soon after a Roe reversal.
Asked about other steps the Biden administration plans to take, the White House official said the president will continue to emphasize that “only Congress can fix the situation.”
In remarks from the White House Friday, Biden said, “My administration will use all of its appropriate lawful powers, but Congress must act.”
Josh Lederman is an NBC News correspondent.
Zoë Richards is the evening politics reporter for NBC News.
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