Two weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court repealed the constitutional right to an abortion, President Joe Biden signed an executive order to protect access to abortion and reproductive healthcare after pressure from Democratic lawmakers and constituents to act.
Thirteen states, including Texas, have successfully banned abortions and chilled abortion providers nationwide by enacting legislation to criminalize them with possible imprisonment if they choose to provide care.
In his speech on Friday, Biden once again put the pressure on voters, more specifically female voters, to elect more pro-choice Senators who would vote to codify federal abortion legislation.
“We need two additional pro-choice senators and a pro-choice House to codify Roe as federal law,” Biden said. “I know it’s frustrating, and it made a lot of people very angry. When you read the decision, the court has made clear it will not protect the rights of women.”
The House passed the Women’s Protection Act late last year. Still, the 50-50 split Senate has failed the previous three attempts to pass any legislation federally protecting a person’s right to an abortion.
For context, Biden’s executive order directs the Department of Health and Human Services to submit a report within 30 days focusing on reproductive health.
According to the Biden administration, the report will track protecting access to medication abortion, covering access to contraception, creating outreach and education programs on reproductive health, and convening pro-bono lawyers to encourage representation of patients and abortion providers.
Moreover, the order strives to protect people’s data and information after a report of different period tracking applications selling patients’ reproductive data that tracks their period and menstruation calendar.
“There is an increasing concern that extremists governors and others will try to get that data off of your phone, which is in the ether, to find what you’re seeking, where you’re going, and what you’re doing regarding your health care,” Biden said. “Talk about no privacy.”
But in reality, pregnant people, especially in Texas, who have been living without adequate access to abortion for years don’t have time to wait till the November midterm elections.
And abortion advocates declare this moment in history a public health emergency.
Equally important, dozens of abortion clinics throughout the country, closed on June 28 at the reversal of Roe.
Just this week, Whole Women’s Health, one of the state’s largest independent abortion providers in Texas, closed its doors and announced a move to the New Mexico border, where abortion access is legal.
At the same time, Biden’s executive order comes after he catches some heat for striking a deal with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to nominate an anti-abortion federal judge in the Eastern District of Kentucky.
With Biden’s stamp of approval, Chad Meredith’s lifetime appointment will have inexplicable consequences on Kentuckians and Americans for decades.
To add insult to injury, earlier this year, Democratic leadership, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Whip Leader Jim Clyburn, actively campaigned and fundraised for anti-choice Congressman Henry Cueller in a run-off race in Texas’ 28th Congressional District.
Cuellers opponent, progressive challenger, and pro-choice advocate Jessica Cisneros lost the race by 289 votes.
So the executive order is a grand gesture but doesn’t necessarily align with the actions of the Democratic Party, which say they believe in women’s right to their bodily autonomy.
If you or anyone you know needs an abortion, visit needabortion.org or ineedna.com
Kennedy is a recent graduate of the University of St.Thomas in Houston where she served as Editor-in-Chief of the Celt Independent. Kennedy brings her experience of writing about social justice issues to the Texas Signal where she serves as our Political Reporter. She does everything from covering crime beats, Texas politics, and community activism. Kennedy is a passionate reporter, avid reader, coffee enthusiast, and loves to travel.