US President Joseph Biden Friday issued an Executive Order which would mitigate the effects of the recent overturning by the US Supreme Court of the 1973 Roe v Wade ruling which had cleared the way for abortions nationwide.
Biden's document seeks to protect women's access to abortion despite efforts by some states to ban or severely restrict it. The court’s ruling now leaves it up to states to establish their own laws regarding abortion. So far, 13 states have established total bans on the procedure.
The President denounced the court's decision as extreme and totally wrong.
This is not an imagined horror, Biden said. It is already happening. Just last week, it was reported that a 10-year-old girl was a victim of rape, 10 years old, and was forced to travel out of state to Indiana to try to terminate the pregnancy and perhaps save her life.
Imagine being that little girl, she continued. I'm serious, imagine being that little girl, he added.
Biden has been facing pressure from fellow Democrats to take stronger action regarding abortion rights, ever since the court's June 24 ruling was leaked in early May.
The order is aimed at safeguarding access to reproductive health care services, including abortion and contraception. It largely finalizes the administration's instructions to the Department of Justice to ensure that women can travel out of state for abortion care. The order addresses elevated risks to patients, providers, and clinics, including efforts to protect mobile clinics deployed across state lines to provide care to out-of-state patients.
The White House said Attorney General Merrick Garland had been instructed to convene private pro bono attorneys, bar associations, and public interest organizations to encourage robust legal representation of patients, providers, and third parties who lawfully seek or offer reproductive health care services across the country.
Biden also said he will grant permission for federal workers to travel for medical care, which could set an example for private companies to do the same. Amazon, Starbucks, and other corporations have already announced expanded health benefits to pay travel fees for their employees if they seek an abortion and the procedure is not available where they reside.
The President further directed the Department of Health and Human Services to boost access to abortion pills and protect access to emergency medical care and family planning services, including various types of contraceptives, the White House added.
The Biden administration will also take steps to protect patient privacy, including addressing the transfer and sale of confidential health-related data, combating digital surveillance related to reproductive health care services, and protecting individuals seeking reproductive health care from inaccurate information, fraudulent schemes, or deceptive practices.
This decision should not be the final word, Biden said after the ruling. My administration will use all of its appropriate legal powers, but Congress must act. In the President's view, the fastest way to effectively restore Roe v. Wade is to codify it into law. He said to do that, he needs a Congress controlled by Democrats and urged people, especially women, to go out and “vote, vote, vote.”