Biden To Take Executive Action to Protect Access to Abortion

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden will take executive action Friday to protect access to abortion, according to three people familiar with the matter, as he faces mounting pressure from fellow Democrats to be more forceful on the subject after the Supreme Court ended a constitutional right to the procedure two weeks ago.

Biden will speak Friday morning “on protecting access to reproductive health care services,” the people said. Although they were expected to discuss some of the possible consequences women may be subject to for seeking abortion, his actions will not prevent abortion from being legalized nationwide. Biden will issue instructions to the Departments of Justice and Health and Human Services in order to resist attempts to restrict women’s access to federally-approved abortion medications and travel across states to obtain clinical abortion services. The people spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss Biden’s actions before they were officially announced.

Biden’s executive order will also direct agencies to work to educate medical providers and insurers about how and when they are required to share privileged patient information with authorities — an effort to protect women who seek or utilize abortion services. Biden will ask the Federal Trade Commission for protection of the privacy rights of online users seeking reproductive information.

The order, coming after the high court’s June 24 ruling that ended the nationwide right to abortion and left it to states to determine whether or how to allow the procedure, comes as Biden has faced criticism from some in his own party for not acting with more urgency to protect women’s access to abortion. The decision in the case known as Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization overturned the court’s landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling.

Biden stated that his power to enforce abortion rights through executive action has been limited since the ruling.

“Ultimately, Congress is going to have to act to codify Roe into federal law,” Biden said last week during a virtual meeting with Democratic governors.

Although the tasking of the Justice Department to HHS will push agencies to defend women in court, it does not guarantee that they will be protected from prosecutions by other states who have made the decision to ban abortion.

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