Vice President Kamala Harris said the Biden administration was not currently discussing using federal lands for abortion services in and around states that will ban the procedure, appearing to reject a growing request from Democratic lawmakers who are pressuring the administration to be more aggressive in its efforts to combat the overturning of Roe v. Wade.
“I think that what is most important right now is that we ensure that the restrictions that the states are trying to put up that would prohibit a woman from exercising what we still maintain is her right, that we do everything we can to empower women to not only seek but to receive the care where it is available,” Harris initially said to CNN’s Dana Bash in an exclusive interview, when asked if that was a possibility.
Pushed to clarify if those options the use of federal land, Harris said, “Not right now.”
“I mean, it's not right now what we are discussing,” Harris said.
A White House official told CNN after the interview that “the administration is looking at everything we can do to protect women’s rights.”
In conversations with advocates since the draft leaked in May, the White House has heard a range of options to provide more protection to women, not all of which officials believe are tenable or would withstand legal scrutiny. For example, calls for Biden to allow abortion providers to work from federal property have raised concerns among some lawyers. And providing federal funding for women to travel out of state has the potential of running afoul of the Hyde Amendment, the law that prohibits federal funding of abortions in almost all cases.
A White House official on Monday made a similar argument, saying, “While this proposal is well-intentioned, it could put women and providers at risk. And importantly, in states where abortion is now illegal, women and providers who are not federal employees could be potentially be prosecuted.”