By SEUNG MIN KIM, ZEKE MILLER and CHRIS MEGERIAN
WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden condemned Friday “extreme” The Supreme Court majority that ended a constitutional right to abortion and launched an impassioned plea for Americans upset by the ruling “vote, vote, vote vote” in November. Under mounting pressure from his fellow Democrats to be more forceful in responding to the ruling, he signed an executive order to try to protect access to the process.
The actions described by Biden are intended to avoid some potential penalties that women seeking abortions could face after the ruling, but his order cannot restore access to abortion in more than a dozen states where limits strict or total bans have come into force. A dozen other states are set to impose additional restrictions.
Biden acknowledged the limitations his office faced, saying it would take an act of Congress to restore nationwide access to the way it was before the June 24 ruling.
“The quickest way to restore Roe is to pass a national law,” Biden said. “The challenge is to get out there and vote. For God’s sake, there are elections in November!
Biden’s action formalized instructions to the Departments of Justice and Health and Human Services to push back on efforts to limit women’s ability to access federally approved abortion drugs or cross borders. states to access clinical abortion services. He was joined by Vice President Kamala Harris, HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra and Assistant Attorney General Lisa Monaco in the Roosevelt Room when he signed the order.
Her executive order also directs agencies to work to educate medical providers and insurers about how and when they are required to share privileged patient information with authorities — an effort to protect women who seek or obtain abortion services. It also calls on the Federal Trade Commission to take steps to protect the privacy of those who seek reproductive care information online and to create a task force to coordinate federal efforts to ensure access to abortion. .
Biden is also asking his staff to recruit pro bono attorneys to provide women and providers with pro bono legal assistance to help them navigate the state’s new restrictions.
The order comes as Biden has come under fire from some members of his own party for not acting with more urgency to protect women’s access to abortion. The court’s decision in the case known as Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization reversed the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade.
Since the decision, Biden has stressed that his ability to protect abortion rights through executive branch action is limited without congressional action, and pointed out that Democrats do not have the votes in the current Congress for the TO DO.
“We need two more pro-choice senators and a pro-choice house to codify Roe,” he said. “Your vote can make this a reality.”
Biden first announced his support last week for changing Senate rules to allow a measure to restore national abortion access to a simple majority, rather than the usual 60 threshold. votes required to end an obstruction. However, at least two Democratic lawmakers have made it clear that they will not support changing the Senate rules.
He predicted that women would show up “registration numbers” frustrated with the court’s decision and said he expected “Millions and millions of men will fight alongside them.”
On Friday, he reiterated his scathing criticism of the Supreme Court’s reasoning in striking down what had been a half-century-old constitutional right to abortion.
“Let’s be clear on something from the start, this was not a constitutionally motivated decision,” Biden said. He accused the majority of the court of “play fast and freely with the facts.”
He spoke movingly of a 10-year-old girl from Ohio who was allegedly forced to travel out of state to terminate a pregnancy after she was raped, noting that some states have instituted abortion bans that have no exceptions for cases of rape or incest. .
“A 10-year-old should be forced to give birth to a rapist’s child? an incredulous Biden almost screamed. “I can’t imagine anything more extreme.”
Biden added that in the November congressional elections, “The choice we face as a nation is between the mainstream or the extreme.”
His instructions to the Justice Department and HHS urge agencies to fight in court to protect women, but the order gives no guarantee that the court system will stand on their side against possible lawsuits by states that have decided. to ban abortion.
NARAL Pro-Choice America President Mini Timmaraju Called Out Biden’s Order “an important first step in restoring the rights stripped from millions of Americans by the Supreme Court.”
But Lawrence Gostin, who directs the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health at Georgetown Law, described Biden’s plans as “disappointing”.
“There is nothing I have seen that would affect the lives of ordinary poor women living in the red states,” he said.
Gostin encouraged Biden to take a more forceful approach to ensuring access to medical abortion across the country and said Medicaid should consider covering transportation to other states for the purpose of having an abortion.
Chiquita Brooks-LaSure, the administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, recently told the AP that the agency investigated whether Medicaid could cover travel for abortions, but acknowledged that “Medicaid abortion coverage is extremely limited.”
Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America President Marjorie Dannenfelser condemned Biden’s order, saying: “President Biden has once again given in to the extreme abortion lobby, determined to put the full weight of the federal government behind promoting abortion.”
Biden’s decision was the latest push to protect the data privacy of those considering or seeking abortion, as regulators and lawmakers consider the implications of the Supreme Court ruling.
Privacy experts say women could be vulnerable if their personal data is used to monitor pregnancies and shared with police or sold to vigilantes. Experts say online searches, location data, texts and emails, and even period-following apps, could be used to prosecute people seeking abortions – or medical care in the process. cases of miscarriage – as well as those who assist them.
Privacy advocates are monitoring possible new actions by law enforcement in affected states – serving subpoenas, for example, to tech companies such as Google, Apple, Bing, Facebook’s Messenger and WhatsApp, services like Uber and Lyft, and internet service providers like AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, and Comcast. Local prosecutors can go before sympathetic judges to get search warrants for user data.
Last month, four Democratic lawmakers asked the FTC to investigate Apple and Google for allegedly deceiving millions of mobile phone users by allowing their personal data to be collected and sold to third parties.
AP writers Aamer Madhani, Marcy Gordon and Hillary Powell contributed to this report.