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BREAKING: Biden signs executive order advancing abortion protections after Roe overturn

The order lays out measures to ensure women will be able to travel out of state to receive an abortion, along with additional instructions for the Department of Health and Human Services and the Federal Trade Commission.
Image by Alex Steil
Joe Biden speaks at the memorial service for former Vice President Walter Frederick “Fritz” Mondale held Sunday.

President Joe Biden signed an executive order on Friday aimed at protecting abortion rights in response to the June 24 Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, stripping women of their constitutional right to an abortion.

At least nine states have banned abortion so far – Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, West Virginia and Wisconsin – while about a dozen more are expected to increase abortion restrictions in following weeks, NPR reported.

While he cannot restore the nationwide right to an abortion, Biden and his administration can take executive action to ensure access to abortion remains safe. The order includes instructions to the Justice Department to ensure women will be able to travel out of state to receive an abortion.

Biden said at the White House that he is asking the Justice Department, “much like they did in the Civil Rights era, to do something, to do everything in their power to protect these women seeking to invoke their rights.”

The executive order pledges to ensure patients’ and providers’ safety by setting up mobile clinics near state lines to help people who have to travel out of state for an abortion. The Attorney General and the White House Counsel will also convene private pro bono lawyers and other forms of aid to provide legal representation to people seeking out-of-state medical care.

Biden said he will also provide leave for federal workers traveling for medical care. Companies like Amazon and Starbucks already announced they will expand their health benefits to cover their employees’ travel fees if abortion services are not available locally.

In the executive order, Biden orders the Department of Health and Human Services to take additional action to protect and expand access to medication abortion, emergency contraception and IUDS.

The order also requests that the Federal Trade Commission consider protecting the privacy of people looking for information about reproductive health care services.

According to ABC, this order was signed as Democrats and voters have been putting pressure on Biden to take further steps to protect abortion rights. At the White House, Biden said it is ultimately up to Congress to codify Roe into law, but any efforts by Democrats to make access to abortions protected by federal law would likely fail in the Republican-controlled Senate.

At a press conference held in Madrid on Thursday, Biden said he would support making an exception to the filibuster – the 60-vote threshold the Senate requires to pass most legislation – to codify abortion protections and privacy rights. The President has previously been reluctant to change the filibuster rules to pass his agenda, according to CNN.

“I believe we have to codify Roe v. Wade in the law, and the way to do that is to make sure that congress votes to do that,” Biden said in the news conference. “And if the filibuster gets in the way, it’s like voting rights, it should be we provide an exception to the filibuster for this action.”

Before signing the executive order, Biden said the fastest way to restore abortion rights is for citizens to vote for congressional candidates who will support protecting abortion access through federal legislation during November’s midterm elections.

“We cannot allow an out-of-control Supreme Court working in conjunction with extremist elements in the Republican Party to take away freedoms and our personal autonomy,” Biden said.

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