Since the Supreme Court handed down its ruling on Roe v. Wade, the Biden administration has been facing criticism for its lack of a response in protecting reproductive rights. Today, President Biden will sign an executive order to assist with the legal powers he has to push back against the multitude of laws Republican-led states are passing to restrict abortions and contraceptives, Politico reports.
The bulk of the executive order actions will prompt Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra and the agency to increase access to abortion pills and long-acting reversible contraception like intrauterine devices (IUDs).
- Pulling together volunteer lawyers to “encourage robust legal representation of patients, providers, and third parties lawfully seeking or offering reproductive health care services throughout the country.”
- Looking into several additional actions to shore up privacy rights for patients using digital apps like period trackers and those who are now at risk of being reported to law enforcement by a medical provider.
- Seeking to strengthen protections for doctors performing abortions in medical emergencies by updating the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act.
- The creation of an interagency task force to coordinate federal policymaking and programs, which will include the attorney general, who will “provide technical assistance to states affording legal protection to out-of-state patients as well as providers who offer legal reproductive health care,
Even with these plans, the Biden administration reiterates that congressional action is the only way to ensure abortion access is a guaranteed right for everyone. Politico points out some activists feel that the White House could take more substantial actions. These could include creating “travel vouchers and other financial supports for people crossing state lines” and considering the legalities of using federal land and facilities to carry out abortion in red states.
“We’ve received a lot of lip service from this administration and all the gaslighting calls to ‘just vote’ are not enough,” said Sharmin Hossain, the Campaign Director of the Liberate Abortion Coalition, a group of more than 150 reproductive rights organizations. “We can’t wait 190 days [until the election]. People need care now and that wait could mean life or death for people.”