Biden to Sign Executive Order on Abortions — But Does It Do Enough?

President Joe Biden is set to sign an executive order on Friday to expand protection for those seeking abortion services or contraceptives — but many reproductive rights advocates have said that his planned order doesn’t go far enough.

The order from Biden comes as Democrats and progressives have been demanding a more actionable response from the administration, just two weeks after the Supreme Court upended abortion rights by overturning protections that were recognized in the 1973 decision Roe v. Wade. Some Democrats have noted that the White House should have been better prepared to take action right away, given that a draft document of the ruling was leaked several weeks before the official one was issued.

The order seeks to protect reproductive rights in a number of ways. It directs the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to develop ways to expand and protect access to abortion care, “including access to medication that the [Food and Drug Administration] approved as safe and effective over twenty years ago,” according to a fact sheet from the White House.

The order also directs the department to take actions to expand family planning services, including access to contraceptives, with particular emphasis on long-acting, reversible options, like intrauterine devices (IUDs).

HHS will consider updates to federal guidances on emergency medical care, and will increase efforts to educate the public on their options for accessing reproductive health care, including abortion services. Other actions include taking steps to protect consumers from privacy violations on their health, increasing protections under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), and increasing protections for providers and clinics.

Biden’s order will also authorize the creation of an interagency task force to ensure these and other aspects of the order will be carried out in a coordinated way.

Many on social media welcomed the news of the order, but noted that it wouldn’t do nearly enough.

While describing the order as “important,” Elizabeth McLaughlin, CEO of Gaia Project for Women’s Leadership, recognized that “much of this is recommendations” and that Biden’s order “needs more teeth.”

“I’ll take it, but keep pushing,” she added.

Florida state Rep. Anna Eskamani (D) also described the order as important, but agreed that further action was needed.

“There seems to be important measures in this Executive Order, including directing the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to address online privacy concerns for folks who search for abortion services & securing legal backing for abortion providers & patients,” Eskamani said. “But it isn’t enough.”