Roe v Wade: President Biden to sign executive order protecting abortion rights

President Joe Biden on Friday will sign an executive order directing federal agencies to undertake a number of initiatives to protect the right of women to access reproductive health care in the wake of the Supreme Court’s Dobbs v Jackson County decision allowing states to force a woman to carry a pregnancy to term against her will.

According to the White House fact sheet, Mr Biden’s order “builds on the actions his Administration has already taken to defend reproductive rights” by “safeguarding access to reproductive health care services, including abortion and contraception, protecting the privacy of patients and their access to accurate information, promoting the safety and security of patients, providers, and clinics, and coordinating the implementation of Federal efforts to protect reproductive rights and access to health care”.

“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. Until then, he has committed to doing everything in his power to defend reproductive rights and protect access to safe and legal abortion,” the White House said.

Mr Biden’s order will direct Health and Human Service secretary Xavier Becerra to take “additional actions to protect and expand access to abortion care,” including safeguarding women’s access to medications used to terminate pregnancies in lieu of surgical procedures, and ensure all women — including any who might have miscarriages — are able to access “the full rights and protections for emergency medical care afforded under the law”.

The White House said Mr Biden will order HHS to consider updating guidance that lays out a doctor’s responsibility to patients seeking care in emergency facilities under the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act, as well as direct Mr Becerra to “take additional actions to expand access to the full range of reproductive health services, including family planning services” including “access to emergency contraception and long-acting reversible contraception like intrauterine devices”.

The president will also order the standing-up of an interagency task force overseen by HHS and the White House Gender Policy Council along with Attorney General Merrick Garland, who will “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 task force will “ensure the Federal government takes a swift and coordinated approach to addressing reproductive rights and protecting access to reproductive health care”.

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