A steely and determined Elizabeth Warren on Friday afternoon called on the Biden administration to look to federal lands as opportunities to protect abortion access in states that ban the procedure.
Biden and congressional Democrats should “explore just how much we can start using federal lands as a way to protect people who need access to abortions in all the states that either have banned abortions or are clearly on the threshold of doing so,” the Democratic Senator told reporters. Specifically, Warren said, the Biden administration should examine whether abortions could be offered on federal land even within states that have banned the procedure.
Warren’s remarks came at a somber, angry news conference outside the Massachusetts State House, where local and state elected officials gathered with abortion advocates and protesters to mourn the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v Wade — and also to pledge defiance.
“There is much we can do at the federal level administratively, under current law,” Warren said. “We need to do it.”
Warren also said action is needed to prevent “extremist states” from tracking women’s location and health histories to prosecute them for seeking abortions. Tech companies collecting such data should also be reined in, she said.
More than once in her remarks, Warren, who appeared in a video that went viral last month reacting to the leak of the SCOTUS Roe decision, said she was angry. But she also urged those who share her anger to continue to fight for abortion rights.
“Roe is dead,” Warren declared, then repeated: “Roe is dead. But the Supreme Court extremists do not get the last word.”
Warren said the coalition standing behind her — a group of local and state elected officials, as well as abortion advocates and protesters — would work to bring the precedent back to life.
“We need to treat this like the national emergency that it is,” Warren said, and “be there for every single woman who needs access to abortion.”
Most of all, she said, “we are aimed like a laser beam on the election in November. Make no mistake: Roe is on the ballot.” Every candidate for US Senate should be asked whether they support abortion, and also whether they support ending the filibuster in order to codify abortion protections, she added.
Other speakers, including Attorney General Maura Healey, voiced similar messages of fury and pledges to fight. Abortion advocates said providers have been preparing for an influx of patients from other states.
Massachusetts, where abortion remains legal, will now need to play “an even more central role” in ensuring access to abortion, said Jessie Rossman, a staff attorney for the ACLU of Massachusetts.
“Our doors are open and they will remain open to anyone who comes to Massachusetts,” said Nate Horwitz-Willis, executive vice president of Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts.
“Massachusetts could see a surge of patients coming to us for care, and putting a strain on our existing health care services. We’ve been preparing for this, though,” he added. Planned Parenthood is expanding access to both in-person and telehealth services, particularly for medication abortion, he said.
Among the speakers was Boston Mayor Michelle Wu, who said the high court’s decision was expected, “but it doesn’t make it any easier to be here.”
As the daughter of Taiwanese immigrants, Wu said, she always understood what her parents had sacrificed so that she could grow up in a country where “every generation would have better than the one before.”
“It is heartbreaking to see us in a day where my kids and their generation will not know better than before, potentially,” Wu said, her voice cracking, over the din of occasional supportive honks on Beacon Street.
But Wu urged those feeling scared, angry, or disillusioned to find hope in the array of elected officials and advocates who intend to combat the decision.
“These are not the faces of people who give up without a fight,” she said, referring to the city councilors, state legislators and officials, and advocates standing behind her on the steps of the state house. “Boston is not a city that takes our rights lightly. Here in the birthplace of revolution, we have always, always fought for each other. We’re damn good at it.”