MILWAUKEE — President Joe Biden used his executive power on Friday in an attempt to defend access to abortion and reproductive health services.
It came two weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, putting it on the states to determine the legality of abortions.
"That wasn't about the Constitution or the law. It was about a deep long-seated antipathy toward Roe and the broader right to privacy," Biden said shortly before signing the order.
The executive order directs the Secretary of Health and Human Services to take additional action to protect medication abortions, expand access to contraception, and ensure pregnant women or those going through pregnancy loss can get emergency medical care.
It also convenes pro-bono lawyers to represent patients, providers, and third parties lawfully seeking or providing abortions in anticipation of legal challenges.
The executive order calls on the Federal Trade Commission to consider steps to protect patient privacy when looking for information on abortion services, an effort to address concerns about digital surveillance and selling personal data.
"It's a strong position that the President and federal agencies are taking in support of the full scope of reproductive health and that it should be accessible and safe for everybody. It's also important to really think about the fact that it took a really long time for Roe v. Wade to be overturned, and so we may not see a dramatic shift overnight in every single state, but I think these are the types of steps that we can take to restore access state by state," said Michelle Velasquez, director of legal advocacy and services for Planned Parenthood Advocates of Wisconsin.
Wisconsin Right to Life's legislative director said they are disappointed over the news, but they're focused on supporting pregnant women facing housing or healthcare insecurity and do not want to have an abortion.
"Women who are facing challenging or unexpected pregnancy are so often overlooked by the president, by politicians who are pro-abortion. They want to continue to push access to abortion, but they don't want to have these important conversations about what does it really look like to support and empower women," said Gracie Skogman, legislative director for Wisconsin Right to Life.
The HHS secretary was directed to report back to the president within 30 days.