New York Governor Kathy Hochul urged President Joe Biden to consider providing abortions to the public on federal property in states that ban the procedure — a proposal the White House has dismissed as untenable.
“We’d ask that you’d consider your ability to use federal facilities,” Hochul told Biden on Friday during a White House brainstorming session with Democratic governors aimed at identifying options for protecting women’s access to abortion.
A week after the Supreme Court overturned the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling, Biden is under mounting pressure to respond more forcefully. Nearly two dozen Democratic senators wrote Biden last weekend asking him to explore the “types of reproductive health services that could be provided on federal property.”
But a White House official said the proposal, while well intentioned, risked putting women and providers in legal jeopardy in state courts. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity. Biden didn’t directly respond to Hochul’s idea during the public portion of Friday’s session.
Hochul cited veterans’ hospitals, military bases, “and other places where the federal government controls the jurisdiction” in states that “are hostile to women’s rights” as potential venues where the Biden administration should step in.
The New York governor who is convening an extraordinary session of the state’s legislature in Albany on Friday to consider enshrining abortion access in the state’s constitution, said it was “a frightening time for women all across our nation.”
Hochul said women had come up to her at subway stations, farmers’ markets and elsewhere to express their concern following the ruling and that she she will do all in her power to make sure New York is a safe haven for women who live in states where abortion is banned or restricted.
“Literally young women who never even had to think about this right are coming up and putting their arms around my neck and sobbing,” she said.
New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham said she too wanted the federal government to allow abortions on federal lands, citing Indian Health Service Clinics as one possible venue.
Lujan Grisham has signed an executive order aimed at maintaining abortion access and protecting providers from attempts by other states to pursue civil or criminal charges. Last year, New Mexico repealed a 1969 law that would have criminalzed abortion if Roe v. Wade was overturned.