Two weeks after a landmark Supreme Court ruling reversed abortion rights nationwide, President Joe Biden signed an executive order in hopes of curtailing state bans or restrictions, the White House said.
The Biden administration said the president will direct the Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra to protect access to abortion medication and contraception and ensure emergency medical care for pregnant women suffering from pregnancy loss.
“This executive order directs the Department of Health and Human Services, HHS, to ensure all patients including pregnant women and girls experiencing pregnancy... Get emergency care they need under federal law and that doctors have clear guidance on their own responsibility and protections no matter what state they’re in," President Biden said.
He also asks agencies to develop strategies to protect abortion patients’ privacy. That step would be in an effort to protect abortion patients from potential prosecution in states where abortions are illegal or restricted.
Part of Biden’s order is to direct Attorney General Merrick Garland to lead a task force that would “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 said.
While leaders of Republican states might challenge these edicts in court, the executive order might not go far enough for some. There have been calls by abortion-rights advocates to use federal land for abortion clinics. Those calls, however, have been rebuffed by the White House.
According to the Associated Press, abortions are banned or restricted in more than 20 states.
Following the president’s executive order signing, Florida Democratic leader Fentrice Driskell, who represents part of the Bay Area, met with Vice President Kamala Harriss to discuss the future of abortion rights in Florida.
Representative Driskell told ABC Action News that she’s hoping the administration will provide clarity when it comes to protecting abortion rights in Florida.
"We’re very concerned with Florida’s new 15 week abortion ban that there’s no exception for rape, incest or human trafficking. And so it’s a very extreme ban that does not provide the compassion that is necessary for the mothers. So I hope to have a conversation with the Biden-Harris Administration around what can be done on the federal level to protect women in Florida who have been subjected to this very harsh 15 week abortion ban," Driskell explained.
Florida’s 15 week abortion ban remains in effect after the state filed an appeal over a circuit court judge’s ruling to temporarily block the ban.