This move is intended to reduce penalties for women seeking abortions after the court’s ruling. The US president acknowledged the limitations his office faces and said that congressional action would be needed to restore access to abortion in a dozen states where strict bans went into effect after the Supreme Court’s ruling.
He told via Twitter, “Today I signed an Executive Order to protect the reproductive rights of women in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s extreme decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. It formalizes the actions I announced right after the decision and will add new measures to protect women’s health.”
US President Joe Biden said this on the supreme court overturning Roe v. Wade, “This was not a decision driven by the constitution. This was not a decision driven by history.”
Discussing the court’s conservative majority, he said: “Today’s Supreme Court majority is playing fast and loose with the facts.”
Later on his remarks, Biden called on Americans to use their electoral power to elect senators who would help codify Roe v. Wade, saying it would be a “fast route” to affirming federal abortion rights.
The order’s primary directives to expand access to emergency contraception and long-acting birth control devices like Intrauterine Devices (IUD) are prompting the Department of Health and Human Services (HSS). But it calls on HSS and the Federal Trade Commission to take action to protect patients’ sensitive health data for abortion and other reproductive care.
“We cannot allow an out-of-control Supreme Court, working in conjunction with extremist elements of the Republican Party, to take away freedoms and our personal autonomy,” Biden said before signing the order. “The choice we face as a nation is between the mainstream and the extreme.”
Soon after the Supreme Court overturned the Roe v. Wade judgement last month, abortion rights activists and Democratic lawmakers warned of how sensitive health information could threaten the safety of abortion-seeking patients if accessed by the government.
Lawmakers urge the commission to protect reproductive health data in a May letter and they demanded that the agency to describe the steps it would take to address the risks posed by the Supreme Court’s ruling and the resources it would need. After a while, the Health and Location Protection Act in June, which would impose major restrictions on the sale of sensitive health and location-tracking data, has been introduced.
What Will it do Regarding Privacy and is it Debatable?
Biden’s plan to ask the commission to take action on consumer privacy was first reported by Axios last week. However, it is unclear what steps the agency may take in the wake of the executive order. In January 2021, Flo, a fertility-tracking app, settled with the agency amid allegations that had misled users about how their data was shared with marketing companies and big tech companies like Facebook and Google.
While the order directs the Federal Trade Commission to consider next steps on data privacy, it also calls on HHS to develop new protections for sensitive information, including under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. Last week, HHS Secretary, Xavier Becerra, asked the agency’s Office for Civil Rights to issue new guidance explaining that the HIPAA Privacy Rule largely protects health care providers from disclosing private patient information to third parties and law enforcement.
The order comes two weeks after the court’s June 24 ruling that ended the nationwide right to abortion and left it up to states to decide how to allow the procedure, with Joe Biden facing criticism from some in his own party for not acting with more urgency to protect women’s access to abortion.
Decisions in the case of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization followed the court’s landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade overturned. Since the ruling, Biden has insisted that his ability to protect abortion rights through executive action is limited without congressional action.
For the first time last week, Biden announced his support for changing the senate rules that would allow a measure to restore nationwide access to abortion to pass with a simple majority, rather than the usual 60-vote threshold to end a filibuster. However, at least two Democratic lawmakers have made it clear that they will not support changing the senate rules.