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President Joe Biden signed an executive order on Friday (July 8) aimed at protecting access to reproductive health services in the wake of the Supreme Court eliminating the constitutional right to abortion with the overturning of Roe v. Wade.

President Joe Biden executive order safeguarding abortion rights

Be clear. There is no action the President can take to restore the right to abortion, but the White House says he’s committed to defending reproductive rights and access to safe and legal abortions.

President Biden has made clear that the only way to secure a woman’s right to choose is for Congress to restore the protections of Roe as federal law. 

Until then, he has committed to doing everything in his power to defend reproductive rights and protect access to safe and legal abortion. 

Here’s what you need to know about the executive order President Joe Biden signed on Friday.

  • The President is directing Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra to submit a report to him within 30 days on the actions his department is taking on the matter.
  • The President is also establishing an interagency task force on reproductive health care access, which will include Attorney General Merrick Garland.
  • Health and Human Services will take action to expand access to emergency contraception and long-acting reversible contraception like intrauterine devices, or IUDs, according to the White House.
  • Health and Human Services is tasked with ensuring patients have access to “the full rights and protections for emergency medical care afforded under the law” and the President has directed Becerra to consider updating guidance that clarifies physician responsibilities and protections under the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act. 
  • Attorney General Merrick Garland has also issued a statement saying states cannot ban Mifepristone — a medication used to end early pregnancy that has FDA approval.
  • The department will ramp up outreach and public education efforts on abortion “to ensure that Americans have access to reliable and accurate information about their rights and access to care.”
  • In preparation for expected legal challenges ahead, the attorney general and the White House counsel are convening private pro bono attorneys and organizations to provide more legal representation to those lawfully seeking abortions as well as those providing them.
  • The executive order also focuses on protecting patient privacy. President Biden is asking the chair of the Federal Trade Commission to consider taking steps to protect consumer privacy when seeking information about reproductive health care services. 
  • Biden has also directed Becerra, in consultation with Garland and the FTC, to consider options to address deceptive or fraudulent practices and protect access to accurate information.
  • President Biden is directing Health and Human Services to consider additional actions to safeguard sensitive information related to reproductive health care, including under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. 
  • Becerra has directed the Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights to issue new guidance related to the HIPAA Privacy Rule to clarify that doctors and medical providers are in most cases not required — and in many instances not permitted — to disclose the private information of patients, including to law enforcement. 
  • The office will also issue a guide for consumers on how to protect personal data on mobile apps.
  • The order also looks to ensure the safety of those seeking as well as providing abortion care, including by protecting mobile clinics that have been deployed to provide care for out-of-state patients.

Watch the news report below.