Biden issues executive order on access to abortion, calls for more research

WASHINGTON – Since before the Supreme Court take down Roe v. WadeDemocrats have pressured President Biden to take action to protect abortion rights.

And he has sought to do so, convening a task force to oversee state crackdowns on procedural law, allowing courts to bring lawsuits against states that, in his view, is going too far and issuing guidance to pharmacists and other health care providers to reinforce existing laws on privacy and drug access.

Then on Wednesday, after weeks of research by his administration, Mr Biden took further action by signing an executive order to protect abortion rights – by delving deeper into what he could do. to protect abortion rights.

The order directs the secretary of health and human services to “review actions” to protect access to abortion and other health services, including women crossing the state line, “consider all appropriate action” to advise uncertain physicians of their legal obligations and to “assess the adequacy” of data collection on abortion.

As unilateral operations of presidential power unfold, this is not particularly remarkable, nor is it what abortion rights advocates had hoped for. But executive orders directing members of the administration to study one issue or another have become popular in recent years as a way for executives to build a bold action image. even in areas where their power may be limited.

“I pledge to the American people that we are doing everything in our power to protect the right to access health care, including the choice that women had under Roe v. Wade, who were disqualified. abandoned by this extreme court,” Biden said in comments sent by video from the White House residence, where he is quarantining with Covid-19.

The order comes after voters in Kansas on Tuesday completely rejected an amendment that may have removed the right to abortion from the state constitution. Also on Tuesday, Biden administration sued Idaho to its strict new law that the Justice Department said would prevent emergency room doctors from performing necessary abortions on women facing medical emergencies.

Like other Democrats, Mr. Biden drew his hopes from the Kansas referendum, seeing it as a potential sign of a voter backlash against supporters of what he called the referendum. “radical MAGA ideology” seeks to outlaw abortion.

“They have no clue about the strength of American women,” Biden said. “Last night in Kansas, they found out.”

But it is a tacit admission that even a president has limited power to defend abortion rights unless voters elect more supporters. “Ultimately, Congress must codify Roe protections as federal law,” he said. “And if Congress doesn’t act, the people of this country need to elect senators and representatives who will reinstate Roe and will defend privacy, liberty, and equality.”

As for Mr. Biden’s executive order, White House officials could not explain why he needed to give a written directive to his health secretary to study an issue when he could simply Pick up the phone and ask him to do the same. And in fact, the health secretary, Xavier Becerra, who attended Biden’s video conference on Wednesday, studied these issues without waiting for a piece of paper from the Oval Office.

But such essentially symbolic executive orders can sometimes lead to real action if a ministry or cabinet body comes up with specific ideas about how to enact a new and overall policy. The system then issues an order that actually approves it.

In this case, Mr. Becerra was tasked with finding ways to help women in states that ban abortions or restrict travel to states where they exist. One option mentioned by officials is to ask Medicaid to pay for their travel expenses, an idea that will attract opposition and possibly lawsuits from those who have pushed for legal limits on the use of taxpayer money for abortion.

“This is a big problem for women who can’t afford an abortion,” Karine Jean-Pierre, the White House press secretary, told reporters. “This is a big problem for women trying to figure out how they will pay for their health care. This is a big, big deal for them.”

Activists on both sides took Wednesday’s order seriously. NARAL Pro-Choice America, an abortion rights group, called it “another important step in protecting access to abortion, and we thank President Biden for the flexibility to run in his office. to address the public health crises we face in post-Roe America. “

Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, an anti-abortion organization, for her part, criticized Mr. Biden for having “used the full weight of the federal government to impose abortion on demand up to this point. births, forcing taxpayers to illegally sponsor them. “

Daniel Victor contribution report.

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