By Katie Yoder
President Joe Biden signed an executive order Friday aimed at protecting abortion access in response to the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.
“This is a choice,” he said before signing the order July 8. “A moment to restore the rights that have been taken away from us, and the moment to protect our nation from an extremist agenda that is antithetical to everything we believe as Americans.”
He repeatedly referred to abortion as “health care” and called abortion drugs “medication.”
Biden, a Catholic, has repeatedly supported abortion in contrast with the Catholic Church’s teaching that human life must be respected and protected from the moment of conception.
The president signed the “Executive Order Protecting Access to Reproductive Health Care Services” at the White House in the presence of Vice President Kamala Harris, Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Xavier Becerra, and U.S. Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco.
In the order, Biden states his administration’s policy to support “women’s right to choose” as “essential to justice, equality, and our health, safety, and progress as a Nation.”
The order focuses on four general areas, according to a White House fact sheet: access to “reproductive health care services”; patients’ privacy and access to information; the security of patients, providers, and clinics; and the coordination of federal efforts to protect “reproductive rights and access to health care.”
The order directs the HHS, among other things, to protect and expand access to contraception and abortion, particularly abortion drugs. It also calls for bringing together pro bono lawyers whose services could include “protecting the right to travel out of state to seek medical care.”
The administration also promises to protect patients seeking abortion as well as providers and clinics providing abortion, including “mobile clinics, which have been deployed to borders to offer care for out-of-state patients,” the fact sheet reads.
In his remarks, Biden added that he is asking the Justice Department “to do everything in their power to protect these women seeking to invoke their rights.”
“In states where clinics are still open, to protect them from intimidation,” he said. “To protect the right of women to travel from a state that prohibits seeking the medical attention that she needs to a state to provide that care. To protect a women’s right to FDA-approved medication that’s been available for over 20 years.”
Biden began his remarks by criticizing the Supreme Court’s “terrible, extreme, and, I think, so totally wrong-headed decision” to overturn Roe, the case that legalized abortion nationwide in 1973. The Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision leaves abortion legislation up to each state.
“The practice of medicine should not be frozen in the 19th-century,” Biden said, adding that the court exercised “raw, political power.”
He called voting “the only way to fulfill and restore” the “constitutional right to choose” and codify Roe. Republicans, he said, are already putting in place laws that will “cost lives.”
He referenced the example of a 10-year-old rape victim who reportedly traveled from Ohio to Indiana for an abortion.
“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,” he said.