Republicans are ready to go to war with President Joe Biden over abortion. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) has announced plans to introduce a bill on Thursday that would block the White House from using federal emergency authority to expand access to abortion, and to go after states that might pass restrictions on abortion. This development comes as the Supreme Court is set to hand down a highly-anticipated ruling that would overturn Roe v. Wade and allow states to decide how they wish to handle abortion.
The bill, called the “Prohibiting Federal Emergencies for Abortion Act,” was drafted after the president said he is considering using executive power to expand abortion access–as the court prepares to issue its decision on Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization–by declaring a public health emergency.
In an interview with The Washington Times, Sen. Rubio said Biden and Democrats “are hell-bent on preserving the practice of murdering unborn Americans.” He argued that the government “should be protecting the lives of innocent babies, not Planned Parenthood’s ability to kill them.” The lawmaker vowed to do “everything” he can “to protect life and block this gross abuse of presidential power.”
The proposal would prohibit Biden and future presidents from using the National Emergencies Act, the Public Health Service Act, and the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act to expand abortion. It would bar the White House and the Department of Health and Human Services from declaring a public health emergency for the purposes of “promoting, supporting, or expanding access to abortion” and “prohibiting, restricting, or providing for litigation against states that outlaw abortion.”
Republican Sens. Jim Risch, Roger Marshall, Thom Tillis, Steve Daines, Mike Braun, Kevin Cramer, Jerry Moran, Josh Hawley, James Lankford, Rick Scott, Mike Crapo, and Marsha Blackburn are cosponsoring the bill.
Earlier in June, President Biden stated he was looking into the possibility of issuing executive orders to protect the practice during an appearance on ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live!”
He said, “I think what we’re going to have to do is that there are some executive orders I could employ, we believe. We’re looking at that right now,”
Since a Supreme Court draft opinion on Dobbs was leaked in May, Democrats have been scrambling to prepare for a world in which the federal government no longer has any say in how states legislate on the abortion issue. Democratic lawmakers failed to pass legislation that would codify Roe into law. Now, they are hoping to persuade Biden to use his executive power to safeguard the practice. Politico reported:
Earlier this week, 25 senators wrote to Biden pleading with him to drop the remaining FDA restrictions on abortion pills, which include a requirement that any pharmacy that distributes the drug obtain a special license. They also called for travel vouchers and other financial support to people crossing state lines for the procedure, cracking down on the states that are trying to drop Planned Parenthood from their Medicaid programs, ramping up protections around digital health data that could be used to prosecute people who have abortions, and exploring whether abortions could be offered on federally owned properties even in states that implement bans. Democrats in Congress are also lobbying the Pentagon to allow service members who are stationed in states likely to ban abortion to take leave to travel for the procedure.
Pro-abortion activists have also urged the administration to issue HIPAA guidance to stop medical workers from reporting people they believe have had abortions to law enforcement. “They also want stricter enforcement of widespread violations of Obamacare’s contraception mandate — one of several steps they’re calling for that could help prevent unwanted pregnancies,” according to Politico.
The administration indicated that it is waiting for the Supreme Court to hand down its ruling on Dobbs before taking action, which has not played well with the pro-abortion crowd. Rubio’s legislation is unlikely to pass while Democrats remain in control of both chambers of Congress. However, the outcome of the upcoming congressional elections could change that. In the meantime, it seems likely that if Biden were to issue such an order, Republicans would use the courts to block or stall the executive order–until they have enough seats in Congress to stop it permanently through legislation.