WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden delivered impassioned remarks on Friday condemning the “extreme” Supreme Court majority that ended a constitutional right to abortion and pleading with Americans upset about the decision to “vote, vote, vote vote” in November. He signed an executive order to try to protect access to the procedure under growing pressure from fellow Democrats to be more forceful in response to the ruling.
The actions described by Biden are intended to mitigate some potential penalties that women seeking abortions could face after the ruling, but his order cannot restore access to abortion in more than a dozen states where limits strict or total bans have come into force. A dozen other states are set to impose additional restrictions.
Biden acknowledged the limitations his office faced, saying it would take an act of Congress to restore nationwide access to the way it was before the June 24 decision.
“The fastest way to restore Roe is through national legislation,” Biden said. “The challenge is to get out there and vote. For God’s sake, there are elections in November.”
Biden’s action formalized instructions to the Departments of Justice and Health and Human Services to push back on efforts to limit women’s ability to access federally approved abortion drugs or cross borders. states to access clinical abortion services. He was joined by Vice President Kamala Harris, HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra and Assistant Attorney General Lisa Monaco in the Roosevelt Room when he signed the order.
His executive order also directs 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 use abortion services. It also calls on the Federal Trade Commission to take steps to protect the privacy of those who seek reproductive care information online and to create an interagency task force to coordinate federal efforts to ensure access to the ‘abortion.
Biden is also asking his staff to convene pro bono attorneys to provide women and providers with pro bono legal assistance to help them navigate new state restrictions after the Supreme Court ruling.
The order, following the June 24 High Court ruling that ended the nation’s abortion rights and left it to states to determine whether or how to allow the procedure, comes as Biden has come under fire from some members of his own party for not acting with more urgency. protect women’s access to abortion. The decision in the case known as Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization reversed the landmark 1973 court decision Roe v. Wade.
Since the decision, Biden has stressed that his ability to protect abortion rights through executive branch action is limited without congressional action, and pointed out that Democrats do not have the votes in the current Congress for the TO DO.
“We need two more pro-choice senators and a pro-choice house to codify Roe,” he said. “Your vote can make this a reality.”
Biden first announced his support last week for changing Senate rules to allow a measure to restore national abortion access to a simple majority, rather than the usual 60 threshold. votes required to end an obstruction. However, at least two Democratic lawmakers have made it clear that they will not support changing the Senate rules.
He predicted the women would turn up in “record numbers” in frustration at the court’s decision, and said he expected “millions upon millions of men to fight alongside them”.
On Friday, he reiterated his scathing criticism of the Supreme Court’s reasoning in striking down what had been a half-century-old constitutional right to abortion.
“Let’s be clear on something from the start, this was not a constitutionally motivated decision,” Biden said, accusing the court majority of “playing fast and loose with the facts.”
He spoke movingly about a 10-year-old girl from Ohio who was forced to travel out of state to terminate a pregnancy after she was raped, noting that some states have instituted abortion bans that have no exceptions for cases of rape or incest.
“A 10-year-old should be forced to give birth to a rapist’s child!” Biden nearly shouted. “I can’t imagine anything more extreme.”
Biden added ahead of November’s midterm elections that “the choice we face as a nation is between the mainstream or the extreme.”
The Justice Department and HHS mission pushes agencies to fight in court to protect women, but that doesn’t guarantee the justice system will stand on their side against possible lawsuits by states that have decided to ban abortion.
“President Biden has made it clear that the only way to secure a woman’s right to choose is for Congress to reinstate Roe’s protections as federal law,” the White House said. “In the meantime, he is committed to doing everything in his power to defend reproductive rights and protect access to safe and legal abortion.”
NARAL Pro-Choice America President Mini Timmaraju called Biden’s order “an important first step in restoring the rights stripped from millions of Americans by the Supreme Court.”
But Lawrence Gostin, who directs the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health at Georgetown Law, called Biden’s plans “disappointing.”
“There is nothing I have seen that can affect the lives of ordinary poor women living in red states,” he said.
Gostin encouraged Biden to take a more forceful approach to ensuring access to medical abortion across the country and said Medicaid should consider covering transportation to other states for the purpose of having an abortion.
Gostin said, “We basically have two Americas.” There’s one where people have access to a full range of health care, and “another where citizens don’t have the same rights to safe and effective treatment as the rest of the country.”
Chiquita Brooks-LaSure, the administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, told the AP that the agency was looking at how Medicaid could cover travel for abortions, along with a range of other proposals, but acknowledged that “Medicaid abortion coverage is extremely limited.
Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America President Marjorie Dannenfelser condemned Biden’s order, saying, “President Biden has once again given in to the extreme abortion lobby, determined to bring the full weight of federal government behind the promotion of abortion.”
Biden’s decision was the latest push to protect the data privacy of those considering or seeking abortion, as regulators and lawmakers consider the implications of the Supreme Court ruling.
The court ruling is expected to make abortion illegal in more than a dozen states and severely restricted in others. Privacy experts say this could leave women vulnerable as their personal data could be used to monitor pregnancies and shared with police or sold to vigilantes. Experts say online searches, location data, texts and emails, and even period-following apps, could be used to prosecute people seeking abortions — or medical care in the process. cases of miscarriage – as well as those who assist them.
Privacy advocates are monitoring possible new actions by law enforcement in affected states – serving subpoenas, for example, to tech companies such as Google, Apple, Bing, Facebook’s Messenger and WhatsApp, services like Uber and Lyft, and internet service providers like AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, and Comcast. Local prosecutors can go before sympathetic judges to get search warrants for user data.
Last month, four Democratic lawmakers asked the FTC to investigate Apple and Google for allegedly deceiving millions of mobile phone users by allowing their personal data to be collected and sold to third parties.
AP writers Marcy Gordon and Hillary Powell contributed to this report.
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