He plans to sign an executive order to protect access to abortion and emergency contraception, protect patient privacy and improve legal options for those seeking access to such services, according to a White House statement late Thursday.
The order directs Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra to submit a report within 30 days. Becerra is also charged with finding ways to increase public access to reproductive health services, including abortion, so that those seeking them know how to access them.
For some of the legal battles ahead, Biden is advising the attorney general and White House counsel to bring together private attorneys, bar associations and public interest organizations to promote legal representation for those seeking or providing reproductive health care. Services.
According to the White House statement, “Such representation includes protecting the right to travel out of state to obtain medical care.
Legal aid is a major concern among some abortion rights advocates. Gretchen Whitmer (D-Mich.) on Thursday urged the Biden administration to “pull out all the stops,” pointing to legal barriers that could prevent Michigan residents from seeking services in Canada or bringing drugs from across the border.
“At this dangerous, dangerous moment for women’s basic rights, we must be creative and take bold action” Whitmer said in a statement Along with his letter to Biden administration officials. “We have to lead.”
Another area that Biden’s executive order tries to address is patient privacy. Biden is asking the chairman of the Federal Trade Commission to consider taking steps to protect the privacy of consumers when they seek information about reproductive health services. HHS will also consider additional measures to prevent disclosure of patient information.
Biden is also establishing an interagency task force on reproductive health care access that will coordinate across the government on other potential policies.
It’s unclear how much of an impact the actions will have — for example, Biden’s recommendations would make prescription abortions inaccessible in states that have banned abortions. But advocates are urging the president to try to fight abortion rights restrictions, but not to second-guess them before trying.
Biden’s actions come two weeks after the Supreme Court upheld five decades of federal abortion rights, and he has faced growing criticism for not responding quickly.
White House officials defended his moves, pointing to an initial speech he gave after the decision and saying they were doing what they could legally.
But he has been accused of not using the moment to galvanize Democrats and not speaking consistently and forcefully. Some also say the White House seemed flat-lined after a draft of the Supreme Court ruling was leaked nearly two months ago, despite plenty of time to craft a plan.
last week, Biden called for the filibuster to be overturned He has so far resisted other efforts to help codify abortion rights, but Democrats are urging him to embrace them.
Representative. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (DN.Y.) has pressed Biden to expand the Supreme Court, but reiterated that she would not consider such a move. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) has been among those calling for federal lands to be opened to abortion clinics, a tactic the White House has rejected, saying it would undermine the safety of women traveling to the clinics.
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