President Joe Biden on Friday signed an executive order aimed at protecting some access to abortion, as he made an effort to respond to the Supreme Court’s decision last month to overturn Roe v. Wade.
His administration had considered declaring a public health emergency to preserve broad access to abortion services, but officials decided such a move’s impact wouldn’t justify the inevitable legal battle, according to a Bloomberg report citing unnamed sources.
“This is a moment to restore the rights that have been taken away from us,” Biden said in a speech at the White House before signing the executive order.
The president’s order directs the Department of Health and Human Services to protect and expand access to federally approved abortion medication. It also asks the Federal Trade Commission to consider taking steps to protect the privacy of those seeking information about reproductive care.
In addition, Biden said his order asks the Justice Department to do everything in its power to protect the right to travel out of state to seek abortions. And the White House is convening volunteer lawyers to help with efforts in that area.
An Associated Press report on Thursday said Biden’s order would push back on efforts to limit the ability of women to travel across state lines to access clinical abortion services, as well as make that request to the FTC.
Abortion activists expressed disappointment over Biden’s moves on Friday, with one prominent activist, Renee Bracey Sherman, tweeting they were “not the things we’ve been asking for” and “not meeting the moment.”
The landmark Roe decision in 1973 established a right to an abortion in all 50 U.S. states.
Biden on Friday reiterated his call for voters to make their voices heard on abortion in upcoming state and local elections. Analysts have said the overturning of Roe v. Wade could boost Democratic turnout in this year’s midterm races, though Republicans still are favored to take back control of the House and Senate.
“There’s an election in November. Vote, vote, vote, vote,” the president said.