Biden signs executive order safeguarding abortion access

President condemns 'totally wrong-headed' Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v Wade

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Condemning the US Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v Wade as "totally wrong-headed", President Joe Biden on Friday signed an executive order that would help safeguard access to abortion.

Following the Supreme Court's decision to end the constitutional right to abortions, Mr Biden pledged he would do everything in his executive authority to protect reproductive rights.

"While I wish it had not come to this, this is the fastest route available," he said from the White House.

As part of Friday's order, Mr Biden directed the Secretary of Health and Human Services to protect and expand access to “medication abortion” and contraception.

The department also will to increase public education efforts on abortion access, and consider additional access to protect patient privacy.

Additionally, the White House counsel and Mr Biden's attorney general will meet pro bono lawyers and other organisations to encourage legal representation for patients and providers.

Mr Biden's action stops short of more aggressive action suggested by some Democrats who have argued that the Supreme Court's ruling was drastic enough for the president to flex his executive authority. But Mr Biden has repeatedly said codifying abortion rights into federal law is an action that only Congress can undertake.

"We need two additional pro-choice senators and a pro-choice House [of Representatives] to codify roe as federal law," Mr Biden said, urging pro-choice supporters to vote in the midterm elections later this year.

The Supreme Court's decision last month restored states' power to pass their own laws on banning abortion. Mr Biden condemned the ruling.

"Now the most extreme Republican governors and state legislatures have taken the court's decision as a green light to impose some of the harshest and most restrictive laws seen in this country in a long time," he said.

Restrictive abortion laws have already gone into effect in Republican-led states across the US, some of which do not grant exceptions in the case of incest or rape.

"These are the laws not only put women's life at risk These are laws that will cost lives," Mr Biden said.

The president also warned of "extreme" Republicans plotting to impose a nationwide abortion ban if they retake control of the US House and Senate later this year. Mr Biden vowed to block any such legislation.

"As long as I'm president and won't happen, because I'll veto it," he said.

Vice President Kamala Harris was expected to meet legislators from Indiana, Florida, South Dakota, Nebraska and Montana. Each state has a Republican-controlled state legislature and is expected to enact restrictive abortion laws in the next few weeks.

Ms Harris will “convey the administration’s commitment to protecting access to reproductive health care, and she will encourage the legislators to continue defending reproductive rights and freedoms at the state level,” the White House said in a statement.

Agencies contributed to this report

Updated: July 08, 2022, 9:21 PM