Since the conservative majority in the United States Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade last month, President Biden stated that the court’s decision was not driven by the Constitution or the history of protecting women at the time when they were dying from unsafe abortions. He expressed the importance of the American people voting for two additional pro-choice senators and a pro-choice House to codify Roe as federal law. However, pro-choice advocates state that just voting is not enough and more needs to be done by elected leaders before the midterms. On July 8th, Biden signed an executive order with the goal of protecting access to reproductive health care services.
The four main points of this order are, safeguarding access to reproductive health care services; protecting the privacy of patients and their access to accurate information; promoting the safety and security of patients, providers, and clinics; and coordinating the implementation of federal efforts to protect reproductive rights and access to health care. President Biden explained that his power is very limited and that none of these measures would fully restore abortion rights in states which heavily restrict or ban the procedure. But what do these four main points entail?
Safeguarding access to reproductive health care services includes, protecting and expanding access to abortion care, including access to FDA approved medication; full rights and protections for emergency medical care afforded under the law; expand access to the full range of reproductive health services, including family planning services and providers, such as access to emergency contraception and long-acting reversible contraception; outreach and public education efforts regarding access to reproductive health care services; and bring private attorneys, bar associations, and public interest organizations to have robust legal representation of patients, providers, and third parties lawfully seeking or offering reproductive health care services throughout the country.
Protecting the privacy of patients and their access to accurate information entails, protecting reproductive health care patients from privacy violations and fraudulent and deceptive practices; ensure patient privacy and nondiscrimination of patients, as well as providers who provide reproductive health care; and guidelines to protect a consumer’s personal data when operating a mobile app.
The safety and security portion addresses the risk related to seeking and providing reproductive health care including protection for mobile clinics that have been deployed to state borders to offer care for out-of-state patients. And the formation of an interagency task force led by the Attorney General which will provide technical assistance to states affording legal protection to out-of-state patients as well as providers who offer legal reproductive health care.
This order comes at a time when abortion is still legal in Georgia without exceptions, albeit until 20 weeks into a pregnancy. But, House Bill 481, a 10 page bill passed in 2019 that is currently being blocked by a lawsuit, would criminalize most abortions after six weeks into pregnancy, a time before someone would know they are pregnant. This law also adds language such as “fetal personhood,” which would change the definition of a “natural person” to include “an unborn child at any stage of development who is carried in the womb.”