The Biden administration is desperately attempting last-ditch efforts at protecting legal access to abortion in the wake of the Supreme Court's monumental overturning of Roe v. Wade, with the President signing an an executive order Friday aimed at "protecting access to reproductive health."
Despite Biden calling the court's decision a "tragic error" - fellow Democrats have blasted the White House's flat-footed response as weak and too-little-too-late. The new executive order will establish an Interagency Task Force which will aim to coordinate federal “policymaking and program development” to combat the Supreme Court decision, an administration statement said. Attorney General Merrick Garland will be included in the task force to "provide technical assistance to state affording legal protection to out-of-state patients."
The White House said further that the order is designed to build "on the actions his Administration has already taken to defend reproductive rights" - knowing too that it's only within Congress' power to codify "abortion rights". Biden has admitted his options for acting are greatly limited in light of this.
The executive order signing will take place in a Roosevelt Room ceremony Friday morning, with Vice President Kamala Harris in attendance.
CNN details further of the order:
Friday’s executive order will prompt Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra to take steps to ensure access to abortion, including FDA-approved medication abortion and expanded access "to the full range of reproductive health services," according to an administration fact sheet shared with CNN. Those services include “emergency contraception and long-acting reversible contraception like intrauterine devices (IUDs),” the fact sheet says, citing coverage of birth control under the Affordable Care Act.
Among other administration plans will be efforts to convene volunteer lawyers who will seek to safeguard patient's rights to travel to other states to get abortion services.
The White House says this will "encourage robust legal representation of patients, providers, and third parties lawfully seeking or offering reproductive health care services throughout the country."
Some activists are saying Biden is only acting following an avalanche of criticism and protests after the White House failed to act quickly...
Just two weeks ago Biden said he could not do anything about abortion or sign an executive order.— Heidi N. Moore (@moorehn) July 8, 2022
Today he WILL sign an exec order to protect access to some medications.
This is why it's ESSENTIAL to criticize politicians and hold them accountable https://t.co/446JQuE6YQ pic.twitter.com/oVUGzEvooY
Administration efforts are also looking at concerns over digital surveillance and protecting patient privacy: "The guidance helps ensure doctors and other medical providers and health plans know that, with limited exceptions, they are not required – and in many cases, are not permitted – to disclose patients’ private information, including to law enforcement," a statement said further.
Two weeks ago, the Supreme Court issued a decision that overturned Roe v. Wade and eliminated a woman’s Constitutional right to choose. This decision expressly took away a right from the American people that it had recognized for nearly 50 years – a woman’s right to make her own reproductive health care decisions, free from government interference. Fundamental rights – to privacy, autonomy, freedom, and equality – have been denied to millions of women across the country, with grave implications for their health, lives, and wellbeing. This ruling will disproportionately affect women of color, low-income women, and rural women.
President Biden has made clear that the only way to secure a woman’s right to choose is for Congress to restore the protections of Roe as federal law. Until then, he has committed to doing everything in his power to defend reproductive rights and protect access to safe and legal abortion.
Today, President Biden will sign an Executive Order Protecting Access to Reproductive Health Care Services. This Executive Order builds on the actions his Administration has already taken to defend reproductive rights by:
Safeguarding access to reproductive health care services, including abortion and contraception;
Protecting the privacy of patients and their access to accurate information;
Promoting the safety and security of patients, providers, and clinics; and
Coordinating the implementation of Federal efforts to protect reproductive rights and access to health care.