Those upset about the overturning of Roe v. Wade will be pleased to hear about this executive order.
Biden is expected to sign the executive order during a Roosevelt Room ceremony Friday morning. Vice President Kamala Harris is also scheduled to attend.
There is no action the President can take to restore the nationwide right to an abortion in the wake of the Supreme Court’s ruling. Biden has acknowledged publicly his options to expand abortion access remain limited, and has called on the American people to elect more members of Congress in November’s midterm elections who will support federal legislation protecting abortion access.
Nonetheless, Democrats and advocates have been pressuring the White House take a stronger stance to codify abortion access. Last month, Biden hinted he was considering taking executive action, telling Jimmy Kimmel that while he believed Congress should codify Roe, “There’s some executive orders I could employ, we believe – we’re looking at that right now.”
Friday’s executive order will prompt Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra to take steps to ensure access to abortion, including FDA-approved medication abortion and expanded access “to the full range of reproductive health services,” according to an administration fact sheet shared with CNN. Those services include “emergency contraception and long-acting reversible contraception like intrauterine devices (IUDs),” the fact sheet says, citing coverage of birth control under the Affordable Care Act.
HHS is tasked with submitting a report within the next 30 days to the President regarding the implementation of the order’s provisions, which also include steps to increase outreach and protect the medical and digital privacy of patients seeking abortions.
In addition, the order establishes an interagency task force between the HHS and the White House Gender Policy Council, which includes Attorney General Merrick Garland, who the White House says will provide “technical assistance to states affording legal protection to out-of-state patients as well as providers who offer legal reproductive health care.”
The White House has dismissed several progressive ideas to protect abortion access, including allowing abortion providers to work from federal property in states where the procedure is banned.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said using federal lands for abortion services would have “dangerous ramifications.” The White House has also reiterated the President does not support expanding the Supreme Court, as many progressives have pushed for.
But Biden said recently he would support making an exception to the filibuster – the 60-vote threshold in the Senate needed to pass most legislation – in order to codify abortion rights and the right to privacy through legislation passed by Congress. The President had previously been reluctant to support changing the Senate’s rules in order to pass his agenda.
Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona – two lawmakers whose support the President would need – both quickly expressed opposition to changing filibuster rules, essentially blocking any plan to drop those rules.