Biden signs an executive order on abortion: what you need to know

WASHINGTON — Under pressure to do more to respond to the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, President Biden issued an ex...


WASHINGTON — Under pressure to do more to respond to the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, President Biden issued an executive order on Friday aimed at ensuring access to abortion drugs and emergency contraception while preparing for legal battles ahead.

But the order is vague on how the president hopes to achieve those goals, leaving the details largely to Xavier Becerra, his health and human services secretary, who said the administration has “no quick fixwhich can restore access to abortion.

And Mr Biden’s order falls well short of demands from abortion rights advocates, who have faulted him for not moving quickly to act after the court decision two weeks ago.

Speaking to reporters at the White House before signing the document, Mr Biden condemned the court’s decision as “terrible, extreme and, I think, totally wrong”. The order would help protect some access to reproductive services, he said, but the only real way to protect access was to elect more lawmakers who support those services.

“For God’s sake, there’s an election in November. Vote. Vote. Vote. Vote,” the president said, noting that the court’s majority in the ruling “virtually dares” women to assert their political power to enact laws that restore the right to abortion. “Consider the challenge accepted, court.”

In his remarks, Mr Biden denounced the news of a 10-year-old girl in Ohio who became pregnant after being raped and was forced to leave her state to have an abortion. Yet he all but admitted his helplessness, saying “the quickest route available” to restoring the right to abortion is through the ballot box.

“It is my hope and a deep belief that women will in fact turn out in record numbers to claim the rights” that the court has taken away from them, he said.

In the meantime, he said: “I am signing this important decree.”

Abortion rights opponents criticized the president’s order, accusing the administration of trying to find ways to increase abortions despite the court ruling.

“In clear defiance of the Supreme Court’s decision and in surrender to abortion extremists, President Biden is trying in vain to maintain his grip on an issue that is no longer a federal issue,” said Chelsey Youman, National Legislative Counsel for Human Coalition Action, which pursues anti-abortion policies.

But advocates, such as Mini Timmaraju, the president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, said the executive order “is an important first step in restoring the rights taken from millions of Americans by the Supreme Court.”

Others urged Mr Biden to take bolder action, even if he risks being overthrown in court. They want him to declare a public health emergency, a move they say would allow the administration to move quickly to expand abortion access, including ensuring that abortion pills can be prescribed within States where abortion is illegal.

“You have to be prepared to take risks – even if the anticipation is that it might not work out,” said Andrea Miller, president of the National Institute of Reproductive Health, ahead of the announcement. “Because we are facing an immediate crisis.”

The president’s order directs Mr. Becerra to prepare a report “identifying potential actions” to protect access to abortion, but does not specify what those actions will be. Becerra will also identify “steps” to ensure pregnant women have access to emergency care, he says, by “considering updates to current guidelines on obligations specific to emergency conditions and stabilizing care”.

The order does not specify what those updates will be, but orders Mr. Becerra to report to Mr. Biden in 30 days.

In an effort to prepare for legal challenges from abortion opponents, the order directs the attorney general and White House counsel to “convene a meeting of pro bono private attorneys, bar associations and of public interest organizations” to encourage strong legal representation.

Responding to concerns that people seeking abortions could be prosecuted using personal information in emails, text messages or web searches, the order aims to protect patient privacy regarding service data of women’s health.

It asks the chairman of the Federal Trade Commission to “consider actions” to protect consumer privacy when patients seek reproductive care information. It also orders Mr. Becerra to “consider actions” to protect patient privacy.

The order commits the administration to “ensure the safety of patients, providers and third parties” who provide or receive abortion services. But he does not say how the agencies will ensure this amid heightened tensions after the Supreme Court ruling.

Administration officials said the president’s hands were largely tied in part because of the Hyde Amendment, a provision in federal law that prohibits the government from paying for abortions except for rape or murder. incest or to save the life of the mother.

Mr Becerra said his agency will work with the Justice Department to ensure women have access to abortion pills – two drugs taken 24 to 28 hours apart and allowed to be used during the first weeks of pregnancy – in places where state law conflicts with judgment. from the Food and Drug Administration, which has approved the drugs for use and determined that they are safe and effective.

Jen Klein, executive director of the White House Gender Policy Council, which led the effort to draft the executive order, said Friday the details had yet to be worked out by Becerra and others.

“So what the executive order asked the secretary to do is come back within 30 days with a plan,” she told reporters. “So some of that is, as you note, things that the president has talked about and the secretary has already started to work on. And what that takes is a very deliberate plan and process.

But the president’s attempt to hand over responsibilities has not gone down well with some The main supporters of Mr. Bidenwho repeatedly called on the White House to push for new ways to circumvent the court’s ruling and the subsequent limits on abortion the ruling automatically imposed in more than a dozen states with state legislatures. Republican States and Republican Governors.

Some activists and lawmakers, for example, have urged the president to establish abortion services on federal lands or in Native American territories, where state laws banning abortion services may not apply. The White House dismissed these ideas as legally impractical and potentially more dangerous for women seeking abortions.

Mr. Biden signed the executive order on Friday before leaving for a weekend at his Delaware beach house. The fact sheet did not include any of the more ambitious suggestions for using federal resources to provide abortion services.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Biden signs an executive order on abortion: what you need to know
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