( NYpost )
President Biden blasted last month’s Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe v. Wade as “an exercise in raw political power” and a “giant step backwards” Friday before signing an executive order meant to help women seeking the procedure — though it is unlikely to have much effect in practice.
“This was not a decision driven by the Constitution,” Biden said of the June 24 high court ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, which struck down the 49-year-old precedent set by Roe. “Let me say it again. This was not a decision driven by the Constitution. Despite what those justices in the majority said, this was not a decision driven by history.”
In response to criticism from liberals for not being more aggressive following the decision, the president reiterated that voters had to elect “two additional pro-choice senators and a pro-choice House” in this fall’s midterm elections in order for Congress to codifiy federal abortion rights.
“The fastest way to restore Roe is to pass a national law,” Biden said. “The challenge is go out and vote. For God’s sake, there is an election in November. Vote. Vote. Vote. Vote!”
The president also referenced the widely reported story of a 10-year-old rape victim who was allegedly forced to travel from Ohio to Indiana to obtain an abortion due to the former state’s trigger law.
“Imagine being that little girl,” Biden said. “I’m serious, just imagine being that little girl. 10 years old!”
Friday’s order specifically asked the Department of Health and Human Services to safeguard access to medical abortions, emergency medical care, and contraception in all 50 states as well as launching outreach and public education efforts.
Biden also requested Attorney General Merrick Garland convene pro bono lawyers and legal organizations to offer their services “to encourage robust legal representation of patients, providers, and third parties lawfully seeking or offering reproductive health care services throughout the country.”
The White House specifically noted that “[s]uch representation could include protecting the right to travel out of state” to obtain an abortion.
There are currently no known efforts by states to restrict medical abortion or access to contraception, and any state law meant to prevent women from crossing state lines to obtain an abortion would likely be struck down as unconstitutional, as Justice Brett Kavanaugh noted in his concurring opinion in Dobbs.
“[M]ay a State bar a resident of that State from traveling to another State to obtain an abortion?” wrote Kavanaugh, who endorsed overturning Roe. “In my view, the answer is no based on the constitutional right to interstate travel. May a State retroactively impose liability or punishment for an abortion that occurred before today’s decision takes effect? In my view, the answer is no based on the Due Process Clause”.
Biden’s executive order also directs agencies to work to educate medical providers and insurers about how and when they are required to share privileged patient information with authorities — an effort to protect women who seek or utilize abortion services. The president also asks the Federal Trade Commission to take steps to protect the privacy of those seeking information about reproductive care online and establish an interagency task force to coordinate federal efforts to safeguard access to abortion.
NARAL Pro-Choice America president Mini Timmaraju called Biden’s order “an important first step in restoring the rights taken from millions of Americans by the Supreme Court.”
But Lawrence Gostin, who runs the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health at Georgetown Law, described Biden’s plans to the Associated Press as “underwhelming.”
“There’s nothing that I saw that would affect the lives of ordinary poor women living in red states,” he said.
Republican National Committee chair Ronna McDaniel accused Biden of promoting a “taxpayer-funded, abortion on-demand agenda”.
“Democrats are out of touch with the American people, the overwhelming majority of whom support limits on abortion,” she said. “These latest actions today only further prove how radical Biden and the Democrats have become. Republicans know life matters, and so does your vote in November.”