Biden to announce executive action to protect abortion access

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(The Hill) — President Joe Biden on Friday will sign an executive order intended to protect abortion and contraception access and bolster privacy in the aftermath of a Supreme Court ruling that struck down the precedent set by Roe v. Wade.

At Biden’s direction, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will take additional action to protect access to abortion medication that is approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

The agency will also seek to protect access to emergency medical care for pregnant women and women experiencing miscarriage, including by reviewing guidance that outlines physician responsibilities under the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act.

Biden will also direct HHS to expand access to contraception like IUDs. The Affordable Care Act guarantees coverage of free birth control and contraceptive counseling.

The president’s executive order will additionally aim to protect patient privacy by addressing the transfer of sensitive health data and digital surveillance related to reproductive health care services.

HHS will also look into potential actions under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) to improve privacy protections around reproductive health care.

The order will also outline efforts to ensure the safety of patients seeking reproductive health care and providers and clinics, including mobile clinics being used to provide care for out-of-state patients.

The announcement comes two weeks to the day after the Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade, eliminating the nearly 50-year-old constitutional right to abortion and handing states authority to drastically limit or ban the procedure.

Biden will sign the executive order and deliver remarks from the Roosevelt Room of the White House alongside Vice President Harris and HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra.

Biden has been facing intense pressure from Democrats and activists to take action to protect abortion access in the two weeks since the Supreme Court ruling. Some lawmakers and strategists complained that the White House was caught flat-footed and had no ready-made response even though a draft of the ruling leaked a month earlier.

The president last week in Spain said he would support an exception to the 60-vote filibuster in the Senate in order to codify abortion access and other privacy protections, though all 50 Democratic senators do not support altering the filibuster.

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