The Biden administration is watching closely for states violating women’s rights after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the 1973 ruling that made abortion a constitutional right and plans to take aggressive legal actions, U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra said on Tuesday.
In many instances, the federal government must wait for states to implement anti-abortion measures that violate federal law before taking action, he said.
“If we see a state, for example, trying to deny a particular patient care in an emergency room, which could include abortion services if it is appropriate to preserve that woman’s life or health, we will take action, and we will do everything we can,” Becerra said at a news conference.
“It’s tough to answer some of these more precisely until we know exactly what the states are doing,” he said in response to questions on what actions HHS could take.
HHS will work with the Justice Department to ensure states do not ban medication abortion despite it being approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Becerra said.
HHS also wants to ensure protection from penalization or arrest for medical professionals treating women who present with partial abortions or miscarriages as required by the Emergency Medical Treatment Act.
“There is no magic bullet. But if there is something we can do, we will find it and we will do it at HHS. Indeed, that was the instruction I received from the President of the United States,” said Becerra.