Some of President Joe Biden's staunchest supporters and allies are skeptical of his pledge to protect abortion rights should the Supreme Court overturn Roe v. Wade.

Following Texas's passage of a six-month abortion ban, Biden directed his Gender Policy Council to work in conjunction with the Department of Health and Human Services and White House counsel to map out executive actions he can take to ensure wide-scale abortion access. Three senior Democratic officials told the Washington Examiner that they don't doubt the White House will continue fighting for women's reproductive rights but expressed doubts about just how much legal authority the president actually has on the issue.

"His options are extremely limited," one official explained. "The president has maintained since the campaign trail that his administration stands firmly behind a woman's right to choose, but any action he might take will surely be challenged by Republicans in court."

A second Democratic official suggested that the White House could reallocate HHS discretionary funds or leftover COVID-19 stimulus money to supplement an existing, grassroots advocacy network that seeks to help women who live in areas where abortions are already restricted receive medical care.

The official stressed that this would only be a temporary fix, concluding that "it's a near certainty that Republicans would scrutinize and remove any line item in the president's future budget requests they suspect might be helping women receive medical care."

A third Democratic official stated that the only "surefire way" to protect abortion access would be for the president to sign a bill into law, but "that means relying on Congress to send him something in the first place."

Biden and White House officials have maintained that Biden's preferred course of action would be for Congress to codify Roe v. Wade, and the president explicitly called on voters to elect more "pro-choice" lawmakers in November.

"If the Court does overturn Roe, it will fall on our nation’s elected officials at all levels of government to protect a woman’s right to choose," he wrote Tuesday. "It will fall on voters to elect pro-choice officials this November. At the federal level, we will need more pro-choice Senators and a pro-choice majority in the House to adopt legislation that codifies Roe, which I will work to pass and sign into law."

Meanwhile, Biden has sought to color the conversation as a fight for all privacy-related rights, not just abortion.

"It goes far beyond, in my view, if it becomes a law and if what is written is what remains, it goes far beyond the concern of whether or not there is the right to choose," he said Tuesday. "It goes to other basic rights: the right to marry, the right to determine a whole range of things. Because one of the issues that this court — many of the members of the court, a number of the members of the court — have not acknowledged is that there is a right to privacy in our Constitution."

Outside experts have floated two other specific proposals Biden could take, yet both would likely also face legal challenges. White House officials did not deny exploring the options.

First, the president could lift regulations limiting the prescription of mifepristone, a medication approved by the Food and Drug Administration to terminate pregnancies up to 10 weeks.

The FDA previously required mifepristone to be prescribed in person, yet the FDA loosened that requirement during the pandemic in accordance with the federal government's efforts to expand telehealth services, and while 19 states currently have their own laws requiring that the medication be disbursed in person, Greer Donley says, "There is some support for the idea that states cannot ban FDA-approved medication."

"This is a novel legal argument," Donley, an assistant professor at the University of Pittsburgh Law School focusing on reproductive rights, said in February. "Maybe it would mean states cannot ban the sale of medication abortion, which would mean states must allow abortion up to 10 weeks."

"The most significant thing the Biden administration has done is through the FDA," a Florida State University law professor added. "The most significant things the Biden administration will be able to do going forward are through the FDA."

Drexel University law professor David Cohen has also suggested that leasing federal lands to women's clinics or other abortion providers could allow them to operate in states with abortion bans.


"It is possible that clinics can operate on federal lands without having to follow state law. That has to be explored," he wrote. "The federal government needs to push the envelope. It’s not a slam dunk legal argument, but these are the kinds of things that need to be tried."