Xavier Becerra, Secretary of Health and Human Services, says the department is working to ensure all states provide access to medication abortion. File Photo by Greg Nash/UPI | License Photo
June 28 (UPI) -- The Biden administration is working to increase access to abortion pills in the wake of the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe vs. Wade, and the Pentagon announced Tuesday abortions on military facilities will continue in certain cases.
Calling the court's decision "despicable," Health Secretary Xavier Becerra said the Department of Health and Human Services is working to make sure states cannot ban medication abortion, which is protected under federal law for cases of rape, incest and when the mother's life is at risk.
Becerra said it is also possible the White House could sue states that try to ban abortion pills. HHS will "certainly assert and defend our legal authorities."
"There is no magic bullet, but if there is something we can do, we will find it and we will do it at HHS," Becerra said. The agency will "leave no stone unturned."
Facebook is banning users who post about mailing abortion pills.
The social media platform started removing a number of posts the same day the Supreme Court overturned Roe vs. Wade.
"I will mail abortion pills to any one of you. Just message me," said a message from one user who was later banned. A Motherboard reporter posted the phrase "abortion pills can be mailed" on Facebook and found the post was flagged within seconds for violating the site's rules against "buying, selling or exchanging medical or non-medical drugs."
The Supreme Court overturned its 1973 opinion in Roe vs. Wade Friday with the 6-3 decision reversing the federally protected right to abortion and giving states the power to allow or ban the medical procedure. The decision triggered a number of state abortion bans, with Democratic senators urging President Joe Biden to "take immediate action" to protect abortion access for all Americans.
HHS directed its civil rights office Tuesday to make sure abortion patients and their providers' privacy and non-discrimination rights are protected. The office also said it would expand access for family planning methods like IUDs to underprivileged Americans.
The Pentagon announced it will continue to protect abortion access for service members, spouses and dependents at military treatment facilities. Gil Cisneros, under secretary of defense for personnel and readiness, issued a memo Tuesday stating the military will continue to provide and pay for abortions in the case of rape, incest or when a mother's life is at risk, but added it is federally banned from performing abortions for any other reason.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said Friday the Defense Department will ensure the continuity of reproductive healthcare for its service members, despite what individual states decide.
States "may not impose criminal or civil liability on federal employees who perform their duties in a manner authorized by federal law," the memo said.