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Sens. Warren, Smith urge Biden to declare public health emergency following abortion ruling

·2 min read

Two of the leading Democratic senators in the reproductive rights space are urging President Joe Biden to declare a public health emergency as nearly two dozen states move to ban the procedure following Roe v. Wade’s official repeal Friday.

In an op-ed published by The New York Times Saturday, Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Tina Smith of Minnesota said the emergency declaration would help "protect abortion access for all Americans" and unlock "critical resources and authority that states and the federal government can use to meet the surge in demand for reproductive health services."

Ending the constitutional right to abortion has brought the nation to “a perilous time that threatens millions of women,” Warren and Smith wrote in the op-ed, adding that now "the government — not the person who is pregnant — will make the critical decision about whether to continue a pregnancy."

Both senators also proposed changing the court’s composition, reforming Senate filibuster rules and remaking the Electoral College, which they say allowed presidential candidates who lost the popular vote to nominate the five justices who eventually voted to overturn Roe.

“Simply put: We must restore our democracy so that a radical minority can no longer drown out the will of the people,” the senators wrote in the piece. "Roe may be gone, but the protections it once guaranteed are on the ballot."

Six in 10 Americans believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases, according to a national NBC News poll conducted in May after the leak of a draft opinion striking down Roe and the constitutional right to abortion. In contrast, 37 percent said abortion should be illegal in most or all cases.

Abortion rights demonstrators protest along Poplar Ave. in Memphis, Tenn. on June 24, 2022 in response to the news of the Supreme Court decision that will overturn the constitutional protections around abortion access. (Andrea Morales for NBC News)
Abortion rights demonstrators protest along Poplar Ave. in Memphis, Tenn. on June 24, 2022 in response to the news of the Supreme Court decision that will overturn the constitutional protections around abortion access. (Andrea Morales for NBC News)

"The public is overwhelmingly on our side," Warren and Smith wrote in the op-ed. "The two of us lived in an America without Roe, and we are not going back. Not now. Not ever."

Both senators are among more than 20 Senate Democrats who sent a letter to Biden earlier this month, outlining executive actions he could take to protect reproductive freedom. These included providing federal resources and protection for individuals seeking abortion care.

Smith, who used to work for Planned Parenthood as an executive director, has also introduced a bill aimed at codifying abortion pill access.