HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra Condemns Supreme Court, Unveils Abortion Plan

"Friday's Supreme Court decision was despicable. But it was not unpredictable. HHS has been preparing for this for some time."

Image Credits: Alex Wong/Getty Images.

HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra answered questions at a Tuesday press conference following the overturning of Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court decision that protected the constitutional right to abortion.

“Friday’s Supreme Court decision was despicable. But it was not unpredictable. HHS has been preparing for this for some time,” he began.

“FDA has found medication abortion treatments like mifepristone safe and effective,” said Becerra, who preempted his answer to press questions by saying that he would answer well enough while “stay[ing] in the legal confines.”

“Those medications that may be classified as medication abortion that the FDA has approved as safe and effective are therefore available for prescription,” explained Becerra, before adding that he can’t say what precisely “that means” because the HHS is trying to stay within the “confines of the law.”

“Even though it’s a law that I personally believe jeopardizes the health of women, we will stay within the confines of the law,” said Becerra.

As for the legal conditions under which the abortion pill can be prescribed, Becerra’s cautious response to reporters and Americans was to “stay tuned.”

Becerra did provide some hope on the issue of abortion care for pro-choice advocates and women’s health care providers like Planned Parenthood, which says exclusion from state family planning programs violates federal law. He explained that if a state is using federal funding for healthcare programs, they must respect laws at the federal level even when those services provide abortion care.

Becerra added that the White House isn’t interested in “going rogue” and providing Americans with abortion services.

“We’re not interested in going rogue and doing things just because we want to make sure what we tell Americans is accurate—because we hear, we know, a lot Americans are hearing a lot of inaccurate information,” Becerra replied after ABC’s Mary Bruce asked him why the White House’s proposals weren’t more prepared for the fall of Roe v. Wade if they had been expecting it.

“And so to every American who’s impacted: My apologies that, as I said, we can’t tell you there’s a silver bullet. But what I am saying to you is that the more we dig, we will do everything we can with what we find to make sure we’re protecting women’s reproductive health care services. It takes a little time because we want to do it right, and we want to do it according to the law.”

On Friday, Attorney General Merrick Garland announced that “states may not ban” abortion pills that are approved by the FDA. However, he failed to explain how the FDA could ensure access to abortion pills such as mifepristone.

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