White House mulls possible narrow abortion public health directive

President Joe Biden's administration is weighing whether to consider a narrow public health directive designed to protect access to abortion pills, Politico reported July 19, citing three people familiar with the discussions.

The directive would center on authority under the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act, which, according to the HHS website, authorizes the department to issue a PREP Act declaration providing immunity from liability (except for willful misconduct) for certain claims.

The proposal the White House is weighing would rely on the PREP Act to protect physicians, pharmacies and others from liability for providing abortion pills across the U.S., according to Politico.

"It gives a narrow but very discrete power that the administration wants, which is to protect dispensers of abortion medication," a person familiar with the discussions told the publication.

However, White House senior aides have expressed skepticism as to whether the proposal would survive inevitable legal challenges, according to Politico.

The White House has considered options to protect access to reproductive healthcare services nationwide after the Supreme Court overturned the constitutional right to abortion June 24. The White House has not announced any decision regarding a narrow public health directive under the PREP Act. 

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