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Biden says he’s weighing calls for public health emergency on abortion

The decision would appease some Democrats urging such a move, but others in his administration have said it’s an unnecessary step

President Biden stops to talk to reporters July 10 during a bike ride in Rehoboth Beach, Del. (Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images)
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REHOBOTH BEACH, Del. — President Biden said Sunday that he is weighing whether to consider declaring abortion access a public health emergency, a decision that would appease some within his party calling for such a move but would go against some in his administration who have said it is an unnecessary step.

Biden, pausing during a bike ride here to speak to reporters, also offered a message to protesters who were outside the White House on Saturday: “Keep protesting,” he said. “Keep making your point. It’s critically important.”

“We can do a lot of things to accommodate the rights of women in the meantime,” he said. “But, fundamentally, the only thing that’s going to change this is if we have a national law that reinstates Roe v. Wade. That’s the bottom line.”

Some in his party have been calling on Biden to declare a public health emergency, a move that would make limited difference in the policies or actions he could take but also one that could elevate the issue and show how seriously his administration views it.

Some in his administration have supported the idea, saying it would bring more attention to the issue. Others have been uncomfortable making the declaration because it wouldn’t unlock significant new policies or resources, as The Washington Post reported Saturday in a story examining the two weeks inside the White House since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.

But the White House has not ruled out making such a declaration, as Biden hinted at on Sunday.

“That’s something I’ve asked the … medical people in the administration to look at, whether … I have the authority to do that and what impact that would have,” he said when asked about the declaration.

Biden also said he had not yet made any decision on whether to cut some of the tariffs on Chinese goods.

At the start of the brief exchange with reporters, the president joked about the last time he was on his bike near his beach house here. In that instance, as he pulled over near reporters and a gathered crowd, he toppled over when he couldn’t get his foot out of a toe cage.

This time, his approach was smoother.

“I want you to know an important thing,” he said with a smile. “I took off the clamps.”

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