WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden on Friday condemned the “extreme” Supreme Court majority that ended a constitutional right to abortion and delivered an impassioned plea for Americans upset by the decision to “vote, vote, vote vote” in November. Under mounting pressure from fellow Democrats to be more forceful in response to the ruling, he signed an executive order to try to protect access to the procedure.

The actions Biden outlined are intended to head off some potential penalties that women seeking abortion may face after the ruling, but his order cannot restore access to abortion in the more than a dozen states where strict limits or total bans have gone into effect. About a dozen more states are set to impose additional restrictions.

Biden acknowledged the limitations facing his office, saying it would require an act of Congress to restore nationwide access to the way it was before the June 24 decision.

“The fastest way to restore Roe is to pass a national law,” Biden said. “The challenge is go out and vote. For God’s sake there is an election in November!”

Biden’s action formalized instructions to the Departments of Justice and Health and Human Services to push back on efforts to limit the ability of women to access federally approved abortion medication or to travel across state lines to access clinical abortion services. He was joined by Vice President Kamala Harris, HHS secretary Xavier Becerra and Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco in the Roosevelt Room as he signed the order.

His executive order also directs agencies to work to educate medical providers and insurers about how and when they are required to share privileged patient information with authorities — an effort to protect women who seek or obtain abortion services. He is also asking the Federal Trade Commission to take steps to protect the privacy of those seeking information about reproductive care online and establish a task force to coordinate federal efforts to safeguard access to abortion.

Biden is also directing his staff to line up volunteer lawyers to provide women and providers with pro bono legal assistance to help them navigate new state restrictions.

The order comes as Biden has faced criticism from some in his own party for not acting with more urgency to protect women’s access to abortion. The court’s decision in the case known as Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization overturned the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling.

Since the decision, Biden has stressed that his ability to protect abortion rights by executive action is limited without congressional action, and stressed that Democrats do not have the votes in the current Congress to do so.

“We need two additional pro-choice senators and a pro-choice house to codify Roe,” he said. “Your vote can make that a reality.”

Biden for the first time last week announced his support for changing Senate rules to allow a measure to restore nationwide access to abortion to pass by simple majority, rather than the usual 60-vote threshold required to end a filibuster. However, at least two Democratic lawmakers have made clear they won’t support changing Senate rules.



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