Pingree to POTUS: Declare a Public Health Emergency to Protect Abortion Access
Washington, July 20, 2022
Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) is among 83 lawmakers urging President Biden and United States Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Becerra to issue a Public Health Emergency declaration to ensure continued access to abortion care nationwide.
In the letter, Pingree and 82 other members of Congress wrote: “As we have experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic, a public health emergency declaration can provide significant new authority and flexibility for a federal emergency response. Relevant activities may include but are not limited to Public Health Services Corps team deployments, Medicaid State Plan Amendment flexibilities to support safe-haven states, and the ability to accelerate access to new medications authorized for abortion.”
On September 24, 2021, and again last week on July 15, Pingree and the U.S. House voted to pass the Women's Health Protection Act (WHPA), which would protect abortion access nationwide and finally codify protections established by the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey decisions. Due to the archaic filibuster, the U.S. Senate has been unable to pass the WHPA. Pingree recently joined more than 100 of her Democratic colleagues in the House in urging the Senate to end the filibuster to pass the WHPA and protect abortion rights.
Read the full letter about a Public Health Emergency declaration below or click here.
Dear President Biden and Secretary Becerra,
We write you to respectfully urge to issue a national emergency declaration under the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, known as the “Stafford Act,” and a Public Health Emergency declaration on abortion access pursuant to your authority under section 319 of the Public Health Service Act and the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act (PREP Act). We further call on you to use your authorities under the PREP Act to help ensure continued access to medication abortion across the country.
The Supreme Court’s radical and dangerous decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization has precipitated a full-scale reproductive health crisis across our nation. It has also plunged our health system into a state of uncertainty and upheaval that threatens patients’ lives.
Abortion bans can unnecessarily impede lifesaving medical procedures in the event of pregnancy complications or loss. Health experts warn that in the aftermath of this disastrous ruling, the U.S. maternal mortality rate — which is already the highest in the developed world — is certain to rise, with disproportionate impacts on communities of color.
The impacts of this ruling are not limited to health systems in states where abortion is now illegal. In making your determination about issuing a Public Health Emergency declaration, we urge you to also consider the spillover effects of state laws banning abortion on the health systems in neighboring states that protect the legal right to abortion. Abortion providers have reported that patients in need of abortion are seeking care in other states, causing unprecedented strain on limited resources and delaying care for residents.
As we have experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic, a public health emergency declaration can provide significant new authority and flexibility for a federal emergency response. Relevant activities may include but are not limited to Public Health Services Corps team deployments, Medicaid State Plan Amendment flexibilities to support safe-haven states, and the ability to accelerate access to new medications authorized for abortion.
We respectfully urge you to quickly issue a National Emergency and Public Health Emergency declaration and use your authority under the PREP Act to protect abortion access.
Thank you for your attention to this issue.