In response to the historic Roe v. Wade decision by the Supreme Court, President Joe Biden signed an executive order on Friday to protect abortion rights.
The order, according to the President, will protect patient privacy, access to contraceptive services, and access to interagency task forces to use “every federal tool available to protect access to reproductive health care.”
According to a fact sheet provided by the White House, it will also step up public education initiatives, improve the security of those seeking and offering abortion services, and expand the legal options open to them.
In order to clarify the stakes, Biden presented a hypothetical scenario that, in his opinion, will become more probable in light of the court’s decision.
Speaking from the White House, Biden said, “A patient comes into an emergency room in any state in the union, she’s… experiencing a life-threatening miscarriage, but the doctor will be so worried about being charged with a crime for treating her that they delay treatment to call the hospital lawyer, who’s worried the hospital will be fined if the doctor provides the life-saving care.”
It’s ludicrous. No matter what you’re saying, it’s outrageous and risky, Biden said. He was joined by Xavier Becerra, secretary of health and human services, and vice president Kamala Harris.
Following the Supreme Court’s decision, the President is powerless to restore the right to an abortion for all Americans, and Biden has acknowledged publicly that he has limited options for increasing access to abortions.
Democrats and advocates, however, have been exerting pressure on the White House to take a stronger stance in favor of codifying abortion access. While he thought Congress should codify Roe, Biden hinted last month that he was thinking about using executive orders. He said to Jimmy Kimmel, “There’s some executive orders I could employ, we believe — we’re looking at that right now.”
The administration is still “considering a wide range of options,” a White House official stated on Friday.
The official stated that a public health emergency is one of those possibilities and has always been taken into consideration. Any assertion to the contrary is untrue.
According to a government fact sheet provided to CNN, Becerra will be compelled by Friday’s executive order to take action to guarantee access to abortion, including expanded access “to the full range of reproductive health services” and medication abortion that has received FDA approval. The fact sheet says the Affordable Care Act’s coverage of birth control as justification for these services, which also include “emergency contraception and long-acting reversible contraception like intrauterine devices (IUDs)”.
The President has asked HHS to report on how the order’s provisions, which also include actions to broaden outreach and safeguard the medical and digital privacy of patients seeking abortions, have been implemented within the next 30 days.
The order also says an interagency task force between HHS and the White House Gender Policy Council, which includes Attorney General Merrick Garland and which, according to the White House, will offer “technical assistance to states affording legal protection to out-of-state patients as well as providers who offer legal reproductive health care.”
At the event on Friday, Biden stated that he was pleading with the Justice Department to “do something, to do everything in their power to protect these women seeking to invoke their rights, much like they did in the civil rights era.”
The President blasted the Supreme Court’s ruling as “extreme” and “totally wrongheaded,” claiming that it was an exercise in pure political power rather than a constitutional judgment. The court’s ruling, he continued, “has an impact far beyond Roe and the right to privacy generally.” equality in marriage. Contraception. There is a lot more at stake. Everyone is impacted by this decision.
According to Biden, electing more representatives to Congress in November’s midterm elections who will support federal legislation defending access to abortion is the quickest way to restore abortion rights.
In order to reclaim the rights that the court had taken away from them, he expressed his “hope and strong belief that women will in fact turn out in record numbers.”
Let me be clear: While I would prefer that it had not reached this point, this is the quickest course of action, Biden said.
The White House has rejected a number of liberal proposals to safeguard abortion access, including letting abortionists work from federal buildings in states where the procedure is outlawed.
Utilizing federal lands for abortion clinics, according to White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, would have “dangerous ramifications.” The President does not support expanding the Supreme Court, as many progressives have argued, the White House has also reaffirmed.
However, Biden recently stated he would support making an exception to the filibuster — the 60-vote requirement in the Senate needed to pass most legislation — in order to have Congress pass legislation codifying abortion rights and the right to privacy. Previously, the President had been hesitant to back changing the Senate’s rules in order to advance his agenda.
Democratic Senators Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Joe Manchin of West Virginia, two lawmakers whose support the President would need, immediately voiced their opposition to changing the filibuster rules, effectively blocking any proposal to do away with them.