President Joe Biden says he’s looking into methods to protect abortion rights if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade in the coming weeks, but the White House hasn’t provided details, and legal experts say he won’t be able to block states from outlawing the operation.
On “Jimmy Kimmel Live!,” Biden stated that his staff is considering executive orders, but he didn’t elaborate. Biden mostly centered his speech on electing more abortion-rights advocates to Congress in the November midterm elections, echoing Democratic congressional leaders who have pushed unsuccessfully to codify Roe’s protections and overcome state restrictions.
Many Democratic leaders and abortion-rights advocates, however, believe that the party will not gain enough seats in the midterm elections to enact comprehensive abortion-rights legislation. Even if it can, many fear that waiting until a new Congress is installed in January would be too late to avert the devastation they anticipate if tens of millions of people lose abortion access.
While Biden has few options for preserving abortion access in states that want to restrict it, lawmakers and abortion-rights groups say there are steps his administration can take to strengthen reproductive health rights, such as making abortion medication more accessible, protecting patient privacy, and ensuring that more people can afford and access contraception.
25 senators wrote to Biden earlier this week begging with him to remove the remaining FDA limitations on abortion pills, which include requiring any pharmacy that provides the medicine to get a special license. They also called for travel vouchers and other financial assistance for people traveling across state lines for abortions, as well as cracking down on states that are attempting to remove Planned Parenthood from Medicaid programs, strengthening digital health data protections that could be used to prosecute people who have abortions, and investigating whether abortions could be performed on federally owned properties even in states that have banned them.
Democrats in Congress are also urging the Pentagon to enable service personnel stationed in places where abortion is expected to be prohibited to travel for the procedure.