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President Biden Holds Virtual Meeting With Governors On Protecting Access To Reproductive Health Care
President Joe Biden met virtually with governors about his options for protecting women's access to abortion in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, D.C. on Friday.Ting Shen / Bloomberg via Getty Images

Following ruling, Biden takes new steps to protect abortion access

Overturning Roe v. Wade took decades. The White House has now started the process of undoing what Republican-appointed Supreme Court justices did.


The process of overturning Roe v. Wade took decades. It was an expensive, multifaceted campaign, which was difficult to pull off.

For reproductive rights advocates, undoing what Republican-appointed Supreme Court justices have done will also take time and effort, though President Joe Biden helped get that process underway in earnest this afternoon with a new executive order on protecting abortion access. NBC News reported:

The order aims to safeguard access to reproductive health care services, including abortion and contraception; protect patients’ privacy and access to accurate information; and promote the safety and security of patients, providers and clinics, the White House said in a release.

To be sure, executive orders are often limited in scope, and as powerful as the American presidency can be, Biden can’t unilaterally snap his fingers and restore reproductive rights nationwide.

But according to a White House summary, Biden’s new order isn’t just a hollow, face-saving exercise of a Democratic president going through the motions. There are some worthwhile measures in the broader policy, including:

  • The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will expand access to abortion care through medication.
  • The White House and Attorney General Merrick Garland’s office will convene “private pro bono attorneys, bar associations, and public interest organizations to encourage robust legal representation of patients, providers, and third parties lawfully seeking or offering reproductive health care services throughout the country.” This will apparently include protecting the right to travel out of state to seek reproductive care.
  • The administration is prioritizing patient privacy, including taking new steps to prevent the transfer and sales of sensitive health data, and blocking digital surveillance related to reproductive health care services. This will apparently include enlisting the Federal Trade Commission to protect the privacy of people seeking information on abortion services.

Obviously, reproductive rights advocates will keep their celebrations in check in response to an order like this — it’s not as if anyone is going to say, “Whew, problem solved” — but for those who’ve pushed the White House for a more robust response to the Supreme Court’s Dobbs ruling, this is certainly a start.

It’s also a foundation Biden seems prepared to build on, just as soon as Congress sends him legislation. To codify abortion rights, the president said before signing his executive order, “We need two additional pro-choice senators and a pro-choice House.”

Biden added that the Republican-appointed Supreme Court justices effectively dared the electorate to choose a Congress that would protect reproductive rights. “Vote, vote, vote,” the president said. “Consider the challenge accepted, court.”