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Kamala Harris: No plans to open abortion clinics in federal countries

by Helen J. Wolf
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Vice President Kamala Harris said Monday that the White House is not currently investigating the possibility of opening abortion clinics in federal states in states that have banned the procedure — an idea progressives began pitching after the U.S. Supreme Court last heard Roe v. Wade. pronounced week.

“It’s not what we’re talking about now,” Harris told CNN’s Dana Bash, who asked her if this was something she and President Joe Biden were studying as an option.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (DN.Y.) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) have recently urged the White House to consider options offered by federal states in red states, where millions of people have lost access to nearby abortion care.

Kamala Harris

“I think one of the things we also know is that there are also actions available to President Biden that he can mobilize. I’ll start with the tiniest of baby steps: Now open abortion clinics in federal states in red states. Right now,” Ocasio-Cortez said at a protest Friday in New York City.

Warren made similar remarks that day at a meeting in Boston, saying the White House and Congress should explore the extent to which we can begin using federal lands to protect people who need access to abortions in all states that have banned abortions. Or clearly on the threshold of doing so.”

The federal government owns more than a quarter of the land in the US, most of which is concentrated in the West. In Utah, one of the first states to enact the “trigger ban” on abortion, more than 60% of the land is federally owned. Wyoming, Idaho, and Arizona — three other states hostile to abortion rights — also have much of the federally owned land.

But Harris said the Biden administration is focused on ensuring people still have access to abortion in the places where clinics remain open and said what’s most important right now is that we’re doing everything we can to help women. Not only to seek but also to receive. Care where it is available.”

People who need an abortion in states where it has been or will soon be banned can only access the procedure if they can afford out-of-state travel costs, including transportation, housing, lost wages, and childcare.

Bash asked Harris if the Biden administration is willing to offer “financial resources, some travel vouchers, childcare” to people who need that help. Harris acknowledged the need but made no firm commitments.

“We want to ensure that there are [will not be] extreme differences… based on who can get care based on how much money they have,” she said.

The vice president also confirmed that the Biden administration is opposed to states that attempt to punish people for helping a patient travel to another state for an abortion, and added that the Justice Department would approve laws for the court will challenge.

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