Kamala Harris says the White House isn't discussing putting abortion clinics on federal land like AOC suggested

·3 min read
Composite image of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, left, and VP Kamala Harris, right
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, left, and Vice President Kamala Harris, rightAndrew Harnik/AP, Jacquelyn Martin/AP
  • VP Kamala Harris says the White House isn't weighing putting abortion clinics on federal land.

  • "It's not right now what we are discussing," Harris told CNN's Dana Bash.

  • Harris said the White House would expand access to medication abortion "to the extent we can."

Vice President Kamala Harris says the Biden administration is not discussing putting abortion clinics on federal lands to bolster abortion access, an idea suggested by prominent progressives like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Elizabeth Warren.  

Harris, in an interview with CNN's Dana Bash, said she was "shocked" to see the Supreme Court overturn Roe v. Wade and ending nearly 50 years of federal abortion protections on Friday.

"It's one thing when you know something's gonna happen. It's another thing when it actually happens. And I just actually turned to CNN, and I couldn't believe it," Harris said.

Harris said that the administration would work to expand access to FDA-approved medication abortion "to the extent that we can," but was noncommittal on the idea of putting clinics on federal property in states where abortion is banned or likely to be banned. 

"Can the administration expand abortion access or abortion services on federal land?" Bash asked.

"I think that what is most important right now is that we ensure that the restrictions that the states are trying to put up that would prohibit a woman from exercising what we still maintain is her right, that we do everything we can to empower women to not only seek but to receive the care where it is available," Harris said.

"Is federal land one of those options?" Bash asked.

"It's not right now what we are discussing," Harris said.

Ocasio-Cortez proposed the idea of putting abortion clinics on federal property at a rally in Washington Square Park on Friday. A group of Democratic senators also suggested President Joe Biden have relevant agencies research the possibility earlier in June.

"I'll start with the babiest of the babiest of the baby steps: Open abortion clinics on federal lands in red states right now. Right now," Ocasio-Cortez said.

But the idea of putting abortion clinics and services on federal lands faces some logistical hurdles like the longstanding Hyde Amendment, which bars federal funds from directly funding abortion services through programs like Medicaid and Title X.

"While this proposal is well-intentioned, it could put women and providers at risk," a White House official further told Insider. "And importantly, in states where abortion is now illegal, women and providers who are not federal employees could be potentially be prosecuted."

Harris also underscored the importance of the upcoming midterm elections.

"We are 130 odd days away from an election, which is going to include Senate races, right?" Harris said. "Part of the issue here is that the court has acted, now Congress needs to act. But if you count the votes, don't appear to have the votes in the Senate."

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