Biden says Supreme Court is ‘out of control’ and orders HHS to protect abortion access

U.S. President Joe Biden speaks before signing an executive order to protect women’s access to abortion and contraception at the White House in Washington July 8, 2022, after the Supreme Court last month overturned the Roe v Wade decision, which legalized abortion.

Kevin Lamarque | Reuters

President Joe Biden called the US Supreme Court “out of control” and on Friday signed an executive order intended to increase access to abortion in states that banned it after the court ruled two weeks ago to overturn constitutional rights to abortion .

Biden, flanked by Vice President Kamala Harris and Health Secretary Xavier Becerra, chided the Conservative majority in the court for stripping US citizens of fundamental rights he says are protected by the Constitution, such as the right to privacy over health matters like asking for an abortion .

“We cannot allow a runaway Supreme Court, working with extremist elements in the Republican Party, to take away liberties and our personal autonomy,” he said from the White House.

The President called out Judge Clarence Thomas’ comments in a unanimous opinion on the quashing of Roe v. Wade, who called for challenges to previous rulings on contraceptive access, gay marriage and other issues.

“What century are you in?” asked an incredulous Biden, who vowed to veto future Republican-led efforts to ban abortion nationwide. The Affordable Care Act guarantees women free birth control and contraceptive advice.

Biden then signed an executive order promising to protect the safety of abortion patients and providers, and access to the procedure through mobile clinics near the borders of states that restrict abortion access.

The order also directs the Department of Health and Human Services to issue a report within the next month detailing measures to protect medical abortions, ensure access to emergency contraception and IUDs, and step up reproductive education.

It directs HHS to take action to protect access to the abortion pill, though it’s not yet clear what exactly the federal government is up to. The Food and Drug Administration approved the abortion pill mifepristone more than 20 years ago as a safe and effective way to terminate a pregnancy before 10 weeks.

In December, the FDA permanently allowed the pill to be shipped through the mail from licensed pharmacies and healthcare providers. Planned Parenthood, a healthcare provider that supports access to abortion services, hailed the decision at the time as a significant expansion of reproductive rights.

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The order comes two weeks after the Supreme Court voted to overturn its landmark 1973 Roe v. Repeal Wade and end 50 years of precedent. At least eight states, including Texas, Alabama and Missouri, have banned abortion so far, and another dozen are set to limit or ban access to the procedure over the next two months.

Democrats, angry and upset with the court’s decision, are pressuring Biden and Congress to do more to act on the ruling. And while the order is an attempt to quell some of that public outrage, the policy is vague, leaving many details to be worked out by Becerra and legal experts.

Biden also on Friday directed HHS to ensure pregnant women who experience miscarriages and other complications have access to emergency medical care.

Abortion rights activists are concerned that medical professionals will delay treatment for miscarriages and ectopic pregnancies for fear prosecutors will interpret these procedures as a form of abortion.

Abortion rights advocates have urged lawmakers to suspend Senate filibuster rules, which require at least 60 votes to get legislation through the chamber, a monumental task in a chamber split 50-50 between Democrats and Republicans, who support the The court’s decision to reverse largely support Rogen.

Biden acknowledged this reality in his White House address on Friday, urging Americans to vote in the upcoming November midterm elections.

“The fastest way to restore Roe is to pass a national law codifying Roe, which I will sign at my desk as soon as it is passed,” he said.

Women living in states that ban abortion must either order the pill from overseas, which involves some risks, or cross state lines to get a prescription in a state where the procedure remains legal.

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