President Biden has said publicly that Congress needs to take action to codify abortion rights on a federal level to no avail. So, on Friday, exactly two weeks after the Supreme Court overturned the landmark case, Biden is set to sign an executive order regarding abortion access on Friday.
The Associated Press cited three sources “close to the matter” as a source of the impeding action.
The White House revealed that President Joe Biden is set to speak Friday regarding “protecting access to reproductive health care services.” During the speech, he is expected to announce actions he intends to take to “mitigate some potential penalties women seeking abortion may face” in the wake of the late June SCOTUS ruling.
Sources say that the actions are likely to be limited in protecting access to abortion on a nationwide level. When the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the Roe v. Wade case, the ability to legislate on abortion access returned to a state level. Since then, numerous states have seen trigger laws go into effect (laws previously on the books that would either ban or severely limit abortion access). Other states have begun working on laws that would allow for access to an abortion with very little restrictions.
The executive order is expected to give a directive to the Department of Justice as well as the Department of Health and Human Services to “push back” on any limits that states put forth restricting a woman’s access to abortion, particularly, the ability of a woman to go across state lines to have an abortion performed.
The order is also expected to address legal abortifacients that can be prescribed and sent to women via the postal service or other delivery methods.
Legal experts anticipate that the executive order will also spur various agencies to promote educating medical providers and insurers “about how and when they are required to share privileged patient information with authorities.” Biden is likely to direct the Federal Trade Commission to protect the privacy of those “seeking reproductive information online.”
Vice President Kamala Harris is expected to be in attendance during Biden’s message on Friday morning. She is then scheduled to meet with state lawmakers from Montana, Florida, South Dakota, Indiana and Nebraska who have described themselves as being on “front lines” of the fight for “protecting reproductive rights.”
Many Democrats have criticized President Biden for not doing more since the SCOTUS overturned Roe v. Wade, but Biden himself has said publicly multiple times that his powers are limited and that it is ultimately Congress’ responsibility to codify Roe v. Wade.
Some posit that there aren’t enough votes in Congress to pass such legislation. In February, the Senate blocked a bill that would have protected abortion rights on a federal level. In early May, shortly after the Politico report of the leaked SCOTUS opinion, a similar bill, titled the Women’s Health Protection Act of 2022, was also voted down. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) was the lone Democrat to vote against the bill.
The filibuster rule mandates that such a bill garner at least 60 votes procedurally before it can be officially voted upon. The bill would have had to have at least ten Republican votes in order to move forward, but, even though it was unlikely to pass (Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer even lamented such), the Senate pushed for a vote.
Aside of his expected executive order today, President Biden has begun encouraging people who wish to see Roe v. Wade codified to go to the polls in November. Biden told the public, “Ultimately, Congress is going to have to act to codify Roe into federal law.”
President Biden has referred to governors in more conservative states as “extremists.” He also said that the filibuster rule “should not stand in the way of codifying Roe.” Even so, Biden remarked that the current Senate make-up doesn’t possess the proper number of votes to remove the filibuster.
Earlier this week, President Biden tweeted, “Personal freedoms are on the ballot” in November.