Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Lee, Pressley, Bush

Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.)—flanked by Reps. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) and Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.)—speaks at the U.S. Capitol on December 8, 2021. (Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Pressley Leads Call for Biden to Declare Public Health Emergency as Roe Ruling Looms

"In this unprecedented moment, we must act urgently as if lives depend on it because they do," said Rep. Ayanna Pressley and 19 other Democratic congresswomen.

Jake Johnson

As the country braces for the right-wing U.S. Supreme Court's decision in a case challenging Roe v. Wade, a coalition of Black congresswomen led by Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Barbara Lee, and Cori Bush implored President Joe Biden on Friday to declare a public health emergency to shield abortion rights nationwide.

"We urge you to use any and all executive authorities to address the public health crisis our nation will face if Roe v. Wade is dismantled."

"Any day now, the extreme right-wing Supreme Court majority is poised to overturn Roe v. Wade, reversing nearly 50 years of settled law and legal precedent—a move that will obliterate legal abortion rights across the nation and exacerbate multiple public health crises disproportionately impacting Black communities," the group of 20 House Democrats wrote in a letter to the president.

"The effects of this decision on the lives and health of Black women and pregnant people will be devastating and require an urgent and whole-of-government response," the lawmakers warned, pointing to "a harrowing study" published in December showing that "banning abortion across the United States would result in an estimated 21% increase in maternal deaths across all races, and a 33% increase in maternal deaths among Black individuals."

To avert such devastating outcomes if the Supreme Court ultimately strikes down Roe—a decision that could come as soon as Friday—the House lawmakers are calling on Biden to declare "a public health and national emergency."

"We urge you to use any and all executive authorities to address the public health crisis our nation will face if Roe v. Wade is dismantled," they wrote. "Declaring a public health emergency and national emergency will allow your administration to utilize additional flexibilities and deploy resources where necessary. In this unprecedented moment, we must act urgently as if lives depend on it because they do."

Last week, the New York Times reported that a public health emergency is among the slate of executive actions Biden is considering as the Supreme Court's right-wing majority appears poised to overturn Roe, a move that could spur 26 Republican-led states to ban abortion outright.

According to the Guttmacher Institute, lawmakers in 42 states have introduced 541 abortion restrictions this year, and 42 have been enacted in 11 states. Last month, Oklahoma became the first U.S. state to implement a total ban on abortion care.

"Democrats need to use every tool at their disposal to protect women and their constitutional right to an abortion," Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) said in a statement earlier this month. "President Biden's executive authority to marshal the resources of the entire federal government is one of our most powerful tools."

"With an extremist Supreme Court poised to overturn Roe v. Wade," Warren added, "now is the time to act."

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Global Allies Stand With Walden Bello as Social Justice Champion Posts Bail in the Philippines

"Walden Bello's arrest is a violation of his fundamental rights, an affront to the institutions of Philippine democracy, and a threat to free expression everywhere," said the Progressive International council.

Jessica Corbett ·

Team Trump Reportedly 'Bullish' About Exploiting FBI Raid to Win Reelection

One former Trump aide-turned-"Big Lie" detractor said that the Justice Department may have "just handed Trump" the 2024 GOP nomination "or potentially the presidency."

Brett Wilkins ·

Pentagon Contractors in Afghanistan Pocketed $108 Billion Over 20 Years

Military contracting "obscures where and how taxpayer money flows," and "makes it difficult to know how many people are employed, injured, and killed," said the Costs of War Project report's author.

Jessica Corbett ·

'Enough Is Enough' Campaign Launched in UK to Fight Cost of Living Crisis

"Fair pay, affordable bills, enough to eat, and a decent place to live. These aren't luxuries—they are your rights!"

Kenny Stancil ·

Fetterman Demands Dr. Oz Answer for $50,000 Tax Break Intended for Pa. Farmers

"Dr. Oz does not want to live in Pennsylvania, and he doesn't want to pay taxes here; he just wants our Senate seat."

Julia Conley ·

Common Dreams Logo