Under growing pressure from his own party, President Joe Biden on Friday issued an executive order designed to help protect women’s access to abortion.

Two weeks ago, the Supreme Court ended nationwide access to abortion, guaranteed for nearly 50 years under the Roe v. Wade decision of 1973.

Speaking to reporters at the White House before signing the executive order, Biden said the court’s decision was “terrible, extreme and, I think, so totally wrongheaded.” But he noted that while the order would help protect some access to reproductive services, electing more lawmakers who support abortion rights is the only way to really fight the ruling, The New York Times reported.

“For God’s sake, there’s an election in November. Vote. Vote. Vote. Vote,” Biden said, noting that the ruling “practically dares” women to elect legislators who will restore abortion rights. “Consider the challenge accepted, court,” he said. “But in the meantime, I’m signing this important executive order.”

Following the Supreme Court’s ruling, efforts to ban the procedure went ahead in many states soon after, but Biden’s new executive order takes steps to rein in any penalties incurred by women who are seeking one.

For example, the executive action includes formal instructions to the U.S. Departments of Justice and Health and Human Services to resist attempts to prevent women from accessing federally approved abortion medications, emergency contraception or to travel across state lines to visit clinics in places that still allow abortions.

That could lead to legal pushback in the courts from states that have moved to outlaw abortion, however.

Agencies are also asked to educate health care providers and insurers on what information can be released to authorities when patients seek out an abortion, including instructions to the Federal Trade Commission regarding information transmitted online.

Still, Biden’s reach as president on this issue is limited.

“Ultimately, Congress is going to have to act to codify Roe into federal law,” Biden said last week during a virtual meeting with Democratic governors, the Associated Press reported.

Some abortion rights advocates praised the new order.

Mini Timmaraju, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, said in a statement that “President Biden’s executive order to safeguard access to reproductive health care, including abortion care, is an important first step in restoring the rights taken from millions of Americans by the Supreme Court.”

More information

Visit the Guttmacher Institute for more on abortion access.

SOURCES: White House, news release, July 8, 2022; The New York Times; Associated Press

Source: HealthDay

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