President Joe Biden will sign an executive order to help safeguard women’s access to certain kinds of abortion procedures and contraception, just two weeks after the United States Supreme Court issued a ruling overturning Roe v. Wade.
Though he admitted he had few options to try and circumvent the landmark decision, Biden has been under immense pressure from progressives to take executive action since the decision was issued.
“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,” a White House statement said. “Until then, he has committed to doing everything in his power to defend reproductive rights and protect access to safe and legal abortion.”
The July 8 executive order will instruct Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra to take steps to secure abortion by expanding access to abortion-inducing pills approved by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA).
As Republican states pass legislation to crack down on abortion pills, Biden wants to find ways to circumvent those laws, vowing to ensure “that medication abortion is as widely accessible as possible.”
Biden has instructed HHS to do all it can to secure emergency medical care, reproductive health services, family planning and emergency contraception.
He also calls for more public outreach and for the U.S. Attorney General and White House Counsel to assemble attorneys, bar associations, and public interest organizations to represent patients, providers, and third parties who may encounter legal challenges related to abortion in post-Roe America.
Other components of the sweeping executive order seek to protect interstate travel for women fleeing red states where abortion is illegal to blue states to undergo the procedure.
To limit the ability of anti-abortion states to prosecute women, providers or third parties who participate in abortion procedures, Biden is tasking the Chair of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Secretary of HHS to create new privacy policies that further limit information sharing, specifically ensuring doctors and medical providers do not disclose patients’ information to law enforcement.
The White House is also tapping the attorney general to provide technical assistance to states “affording legal protection to out-of-state patients as well as providers who offer legal reproductive health care.”
The executive order also reiterates that the Office of Personnel Management affirms that paid sick leave can used to cover absences for travel to have an abortion and that the Department of Defense will continue to provide abortions for DoD military and civilian servicewomen.