“If you want to change the situation for women and even young girls in this country, please vote,” Biden said.
The executive order is limited in scope and builds on some of the administration’s previously announced efforts. It includes some incremental measures to protect women’s access to emergency medical care in states where abortion is illegal.
With Democrats and abortion rights advocates putting pressure on him to be more forceful, Biden said voting in the midterm elections is the quickest way to ensure abortion rights are enshrined in law. Even though a draft of the ruling was leaked in early May, some lawmakers and strategists claimed that the White House was caught off guard and had no ready-made response.
“Let me clarify. While I wish it hadn’t come to this, this is the quickest option,” Biden said. “The quickest way to restore Roe is to pass a national law codifying Roe, which I will sign as soon as it reaches my desk.”
Democrats currently lack the votes in the Senate to overcome a Republican filibuster, and previous attempts to pass legislation codifying and expanding the right to abortion failed.
“We need two more pro-choice senators and a pro-choice House to make Roe v. Wade federal law.” “Your vote has the power to make that a reality,” Biden said.
In the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, more than a dozen states have either outright banned abortion or enacted strict restrictions, and another dozen have indicated that more restrictions are on the way.
Biden predicted that women will vote in record numbers for politicians who support abortion rights and “reclaim the rights that the Court has taken away from them.”
“I don’t think the Court, or the Republicans who have pushed their extreme agenda for decades, understand the power of American women.” “However, they are about to find out,” Biden said.
The executive order directs the Department of Health and Human Services to safeguard and expand access to abortion medication delivered by mail, which is legal and approved by the Food and Drug Administration but is still prohibited or restricted in many states.
The White House lacks the authority to compel abortion-ban states to allow medication abortion, and the executive order did not specify how HHS would ensure access is protected.
The order also directs the Department of Justice and White House staff to organize a meeting of private pro-bono lawyers and public interest groups to defend women who are being prosecuted if they travel out of state for reproductive care.
However, the actions are unlikely to appease some Democrats who have called for stronger action. The administration has refused to take bold steps, such as allowing abortion providers on federal lands or declaring abortion a public health emergency.
Jen Klein, director of the White House Gender Policy Council, insisted Friday that declaring a public health emergency over abortion is “definitely not off the table,” but she added that it doesn’t free up many resources and doesn’t give the government significant legal authority.