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After the Supreme Court overturned Roe V. Wade on June 24, a decision that eliminated federal protections for a women’s constitutional right to choose, women lost control over their own reproductive health decisions, which had been ensured for nearly 50 years.
The decision reignited the American divide between those who support abortion and those who are against it.
Given the outcome of the Supreme Court ruling mostly being men in favor of banning abortion, it indicates that some men believe abortion should be illegal. However, President Joe Biden continued to express his frustration about women losing the right over their bodies, saying, “It’s outrageous. I don’t care what your position is; it’s outrageous and dangerous.”
“What we’re witnessing wasn’t a constitutional judgment, it was an exercise in raw political power.”, he said, believing that this decision goes further than women’s rights, as it “has an impact much beyond Roe and the right to privacy generally. Marriage equality. So much more is at risk. This decision affects everyone.”
While under pressure to take action in response to the ruling overturning Roe v. Wade, Biden signed an executive order last Friday to protect abortion rights by granting women access to health services and emergency contraception.
Biden executive order on abortion access
It will encourage Xavier Becerra, White House secretary of health and human services, to push for safe abortion, such as seeking FDA-approval for medical abortion, which increases access “to the full range of reproductive health services.”
According to the document shared with CNN, the services include “emergency contraception and long-acting reversible contraception like intrauterine devices (IUDs).
The Department of Health and Human Services is taking action to protect abortion medication access and updating guidances to clarify the rights and responsibilities of doctors under the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act. In addition, the act also appoints another interagency force with Attorney General Merrick Garland.
The administration has started to “consider” several additional actions to protect patients’ privacy rights when using digital apps, like period trackers, or when medical providers report patients to law enforcement for violating their privacy rights.
According to Biden, the new law would provide safe access to abortion care and contraceptives, protect patient privacy, and create an interagency task force to implement “every federal tool available to protect access to reproductive health care.”
Activists say Biden’s action isn’t enough
Through this bill, public education efforts will be increased, as well as the legal options available to those seeking and providing abortion services.
The new order addresses several concerns legal experts and advocates had about Biden’s first response, as the administration attempted to convey the importance of women choosing what to do with their own bodies while signifying how seriously they take this controversial decision.
While legal experts and activists considered the order an essential first step toward addressing abortion, they believe this initial step should have occurred a while ago.
“We are glad to see the White House start to implement a whole of government approach to abortion access, but this plan, which the White House has committed to months ago, is both late and not enough.”, says Morgan Hopkins, interim executive director at All Above All.
This new order lacks significant detail about how Biden will achieve such objectives, relying on Becerra to figure out the next step.
According to Becerra, the administration has “no magic bullet” to restore abortion access in the United States.
Abortion access hard to come by after Roe v. Wade
Several advocates are uncertain on how administration will support abortion access and grant financial aid to compensate travel expenses. Regarding access to safe abortions, the White House can take several steps, such as committing to lawsuits that challenge state abortion bans that FDA rules about medical abortion replace state policies.
Even though Biden’s title cannot change the Supreme Court’s decision, many Americans believe the administration should take further initiative to preserve abortion access. Although Jen Klein, head of the White House Gender Policy Council, stated that they are exploring other options and reviewing everything to guarantee safe access to abortion, announcing a public health emergency “is not off the table.”
During November’s midterm elections, Biden is urging outraged Americans to elect more members of Congress that support federal protections for abortion. By choosing candidates who support abortion access, Biden believes it will be the most effective way to restore abortion rights for the tens of millions of individuals who lost them.
Ultimately, Biden is counting on the support of women, as he “hopes and strongly believes that women will turn out in record numbers to reclaim the rights taken from them by the court.”
Although many Americans are upset with how long it took for the White House to implement action, the new law marks a start for a change, a critical first step to making women feel protected. With the new law, Biden seeks to provide safe health care for women, as Democrats have been pushing the White House to be more impactful on the issue of abortion.