Tina Smith urges Biden to use federal property for abortions

Smith suggested a variety of ways to "protect abortion access," including the use of "federal property and resources to protect people seeking abortion services locally."

Tina Smith, one of Minnesota’s two United States senators, has called on the Biden administration to use federal lands — for example, the outskirts of a national park — to establish makeshift abortion facilities.

On Saturday, the day after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, Smith co-wrote a guest essay in the New York Times with Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. The piece proffered a variety of ways to “protect abortion access,” including the use of “federal property and resources to protect people seeking abortion services locally.”

“They could put up tents, have trained personnel — and be there to help people who need it,” Sen. Warren told Washington Post reporter Caroline Kitchener. “It’s time to declare a medical emergency.”

Smith, a former Planned Parenthood employee, was asked about the guest essay she wrote with Warren on a Monday episode of “Washington Post Live.” Host Leigh Ann Caldwell specifically wanted Smith to explain the federal lands idea.

“We urged the president, as we’ve done privately, to use all the powers that he has in order to protect access to abortion care around the country,” the senator from Minnesota said. “We talked about the possibility of the president declaring a public health emergency.”

Smith did not rule out the possibility of exploring options with Native American tribal nations, which are sovereign and thus act independently of the United States government. She also mentioned that she’s working to “shore up access to abortion care in states where it is still legal,” which includes the state of Minnesota.

Gov. Tim Walz has previously clarified “that he will use his executive power to preserve access to abortion care for people who live in Minnesota and for people who will come to Minnesota from other places,” she said.

All odds point to Minnesota remaining a pro-abortion state for the foreseeable future, as the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled in 1995 that abortion was a guaranteed right in the state constitution.

Earlier this June, prior to the reversal of Roe v. Wade, Smith and fellow Minnesotan Sen. Amy Klobuchar signed a letter to President Joe Biden pleading with him to “immediately issue an executive order directing the federal government to develop a national plan to defend Americans’ fundamental reproductive rights, including their right to an abortion.”

That letter suggested the use of federal property to “increase access to abortion” as well. Other suggestions included increased access to abortion pills, travel vouchers, and the creation of a Department of Health and Human Services office to “educate the public and analyze data collected by HHS about access to reproductive services.”

In 2019, Smith voted against a bill designed to protect the lives of babies who are born alive after botched abortions.


Evan Stambaugh

Evan Stambaugh is a freelance writer who had previously been a sports blogger. He has a BA in theology and an MA in philosophy.