The Lead

Biden to unveil executive order protecting abortion access

By: - July 8, 2022 9:23 am

WASHINGTON, DC – JUNE 02: U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the recent mass shootings from the White House on June 02, 2022 in Washington, DC. In a prime-time address Biden spoke on the need for Congress to pass gun control legislation following a wave of mass shootings including the killing of 19 students and two teachers at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas and a racially-motivated shooting in Buffalo, New York that left 10 dead. (Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden is set to sign an executive order Friday morning detailing how his administration plans to protect access to reproductive health care services, including abortion.

The executive order and a late-morning speech come exactly two weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court’s conservative majority released its opinion undoing the constitutional right to abortion the court established nearly 50 years ago and reaffirmed in a second case 30 years ago.

Biden, who has been under increasing pressure from abortion rights organizations and fellow Democrats to take action, is expected to direct the U.S. Health and Human Services secretary to make sure abortion medication “is as widely accessible as possible,” according to a White House fact sheet.

The president has also “asked the Chair of the Federal Trade Commission to consider taking steps to protect consumers’ privacy” when seeking information about abortion services and will request HHS “consider additional actions” to protect “sensitive information related to reproductive health care.”

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As part of those efforts, the administration has posted websites to try to help patients protect information their cell phones may store about reproductive health care and about the type of health care records that are protected under the federal law known as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA.

The White House is hoping to combat misinformation that has become more common since the Supreme Court’s ruling, with Biden directing the HHS secretary, the attorney general and chair of the Federal Trade Commission “to consider options to address deceptive or fraudulent practices, including online, and protect access to accurate information.”

Biden, who is limited by executive authority and whose executive orders could be undone by a future Republican administration, is expected to call on Congress to pass legislation to guarantee a nationwide right to abortion that the Supreme Court rescinded last month.

Democrats hold the U.S. House and U.S. Senate, though legislation to enshrine Roe v. Wade has stalled without 60 senators willing to vote to move the bill past the legislative filibuster.

“President Biden has made clear that the only way to secure a woman’s right to choose is for Congress to restore the protections of Roe as federal law,” according to the fact sheet.

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Jennifer Shutt
Jennifer Shutt

Jennifer covers the nation’s capital as a senior reporter for States Newsroom. Her coverage areas include congressional policy, politics and legal challenges with a focus on health care, unemployment, housing and aid to families.