President Biden Signs Executive Order to Protect Access to Reproductive Health Care

President Joe Biden signed an executive order on July 8 to protect reproductive health care in the United States.

Biden was joined by Vice President Kamala Harris and Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra Friday to deliver the news from the White House.

The move comes after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v Wade in June, which for more than half a century had guaranteed the right to abortion in the US.

In his address on Friday, Biden called the court’s decision “extreme” and outlined steps aimed at protecting access to abortion and contraceptives, as well as protecting patient privacy and the security of health care clinics and providers.

Biden also took the opportunity to encourage voting for legislators who would work to codify Roe v Wade, and opened his statement with the Labor Department’s news that the US added 372,000 jobs in June. Credit: President Biden via Storyful

Video transcript

JOE BIDEN: Good morning, everyone. Before I speak to the Supreme Court extreme decision overturning Roe, I want to comment on one piece of good news, economic good news today. Today, the Labor Department reported that we've added 372,000 jobs last month. 372,000.

Here's why it's important. Our private sector has now recovered all of the jobs lost during the pandemic and added jobs on top of that. We have more Americans working today in the private sector than any day under my predecessor, more today than anytime in American history. Today.

In the second quarter of this year, we created more jobs than any quarter under any of my predecessors in nearly 40 years, before the pandemic. Think about that. At a time when our critics said the economy was too weak or having already added more jobs in my-- we had already added more jobs in my first year as president of any president in history, we still added more jobs in the past three months than any administration in nearly 40 years.

Now, look, I know times are tough. Prices are too high. Families are facing a cost of living crunch. But today's economic news confirms the fact that my economic plan is moving this country in a better direction. The unemployment rate is near a historic low of 3.6%. Private sector jobs are at a record high. Gas prices, still way too high, have fallen now 25 days in a row. And this week, we saw the second largest single-day decrease in gas prices in a decade.

We still have a lot of work to do. I'm not suggesting there's a lot more work to do. But I am suggesting we're making significant progress. The program is working.

Now, with the Vice President, Secretary Becerra, and Deputy Attorney General Monaco, I want to talk about an executive order I'm signing to protect reproductive rights of women in the aftermath of the Supreme Court's terrible, extreme, and I think so totally wrong-headed decision to overturn Roe v Wade. In both formalized actions that I announced right after the decision, as well as adding new measures today, let's be clear about something from the very start. This was not a decision driven by the Constitution. Let me say it again. This was not a decision driven by the Constitution. And despite what those justices in the majority said, this was not a decision driven by history.

You've all probably had a chance to read the decision and the dissent. The majority rattles off laws from the 19th century to support the idea that Roe was historic-- was a historic anomaly because states outlawed abortion in the 1880s toward the end. But that's just wrong. The truth is today's Supreme Court majority that is playing fast and loose with the facts. Even 150 years ago, the common law and many state laws did not criminalize abortion early in pregnancy, which is very similar to the viability line drawn by Roe. But the Dobbs majority ignores that fact. And the Dobbs majority ignores that many laws are enacted to protect women at the time when they were dying from unsafe abortions.

This is the horrific reality that Roe sought to end. The practice of medicine should not, emphasize should not, be frozen in the 19th century. So what happened? The dissenting opinion says as clear as you can possibly say it. And here's the quote. "Neither in law nor facts nor attitudes have provided any new reason to reach a different result than Roe and Casey did." "And that has changed--" excuse me, "all that's changed is this court," end of quote. "All that's changed is this court."

That wasn't about the Constitution or the law. It was about a deep, long-seated antipathy toward Roe and the broader right to privacy. As the justice wrote in their dissent, and I quote, "the majority has overruled Roe and Casey for one and only one reason, because it has always despised them, and now it has the votes to discard them." End of quote.

So what we're witnessing wasn't a constitutional judgment. It was an exercise in raw political power. On the day the Dobbs decision came down, I immediately announced what I would do, but I also made it clear, based on the reasoning of the court, there is no constitutional right to choose only the way-- the only way to fulfill and restore that right for women in this country is by voting, by exercising the power at the ballot box. Let me explain.

We need two additional pro-choice senators and a pro-choice House to codify "Roe" as federal law. Your vote can make that a reality. I know it's frustrating and it made a lot of people very angry, but the truth is this, and it's not just me saying it, it's what the court said. When you read the decision, the court has made clear it will not protect the rights of women, period, period.

After having made the decision based on a reading of a document that was frozen in time in the 1860s when women didn't even have the right to vote, the court now, now, practically dares the women of America to go to the ballot box and restore the very rights they've just taken away. One of the most extraordinary parts of the decision, in my view, is the majority rights, and I quote, women-- this is a quote now from the majority.

"Women are not without electoral or political power. It is noteworthy that the percentage of women who registered to vote and cast a ballot is consistently higher than the percentage of the men who do so," end of quote. Repeat the line. "Women are not without electoral and/or political"-- or let me be precise, not and/or. "Or political power."

That's another way of saying that you the women of America can determine the outcome of this issue. I don't think the court, or for that matter, the Republicans who for decades have pushed the extreme agenda have a clue about the power of American women, but they're about to find out in my view. It's my hope and strong belief that women will in fact turn out in record numbers to reclaim the rights that have taken from them by the court.

Let me be clear. While I wish it had not come to this, this is the fastest route available. I'm just stating a basic fundamental notion. The fastest way to restore Roe-- "Roe" is to pass a national law codifying "Roe," which I will sign immediately upon its passage on my desk. And we can't wait.

Extreme Republican governors, extreme Republican state legislators, and Republican extremists in the Congress overall, all of them have not only fought to take away the right-- or rights, but they're now determined to go as far as they can. Now the most extreme Republican governors and state legislatures have taken the court's decision as a green light to impose some of the harshest and most restrictive laws seen in this country in a long time.

These are the laws that not only put women's lives at risk, these are the laws that will cost lives. What we're witnessing is a giant step backwards in much of our country. Already the bans are in effect in 13 states. 12 additional states are likely to ban choice in the next-- in the coming weeks.

And in a number of these states, the laws are so extreme, they've raised the threat of criminal penalties for doctors and health care providers. They're so extreme that many don't allow for exceptions, even for rape or incest. Let me say it again. Some of these states don't allow for exceptions for rape or incest.

This isn't some imagined horror. It's already happening. Just last week it was reported that a 10-year-old girl was a rape victim of-- 10-years-old, and she was forced to have to travel out of the state to Indiana to seek to terminate the pregnancy and maybe save her life, that's-- the last part is my judgment. 10-years-old, 10-years-old, raped, six weeks pregnant, already traumatized. Was forced to travel to another state.

Imagine being that little girl. Just-- I'm serious, just imagine being that little girl, 10-years-old. Does anyone believe that it's so high as majority view that that should not be able to be dealt with? Or in any other state in the nation? A 10-year-old girl should be forced to give birth to a rapist's child?

I can tell you what I don't. I can't think of anything as much more extreme. Of course, this issue has already been received by Republicans in Congress as a green light to go further and pass a national ban, a national ban. Remember what they're saying. They're saying, there's no right to privacy. So, therefore, it's not protected by the Constitution. So left up to the states and the Congress, what they want to do.

And now my Republican friends are talking about getting the Congress to pass a national ban. The extreme positions that they're taking in some of these states. That will mean the right to choose will be illegal nationwide, if in fact they succeed.

But let me tell you something. As long as I'm president, it won't happen, because I'll veto it. So the choice is clear. If you want to change the circumstances for women and even little girls in this country please go out and vote. When tens of millions of women vote this year, they won't be alone. Millions and millions of men will be taking up the fight alongside them to restore the right to choose and the broader right to privacy in this nation, which they denied existed.

In the challenge from the court to the American women and men, this is a nation, the challenge is, go out and vote. Well, for God's sake, there's an election November. Vote, vote, vote, vote. Consider the challenge accepted court.

But in the meantime, I'm signing this important executive order. I'm asking the Justice Department that much like they did in the Civil Rights era, to do something, do everything in their power to protect these women seeking to invoke their rights. In states where clinics are still open, to protect them from intimidation. To protect the right of women to travel from state that prohibits seeking the medical attention that she needs to a state to provide that care.

Protect the woman's right to FDA approved-- Federal Drug Administration approved medication that's been available for over 20 years. The executive order provides safeguards to access care. A patient comes into an emergency room in any state in the Union, she's expressing and experiencing life-threatening miscarriage, but the doctor is going to be so concerned about being criminalized for treating her, the delayed treatment to call the hospital lawyer who is concerned the hospital would be penalized if the doctors provides a life-saving care. It's outrageous.

I don't care what your position is, it's outrageous and it's dangerous. That's why this executive order directs the Department of Health and Human Services, HHS, to ensure all patients, including pregnant women and girls, experience pregnancy-- experiencing pregnancy loss get emergency care they need under federal law and that doctors have a clear guidance on their own responsibilities and protections. No matter what the state-- no matter what state they're in.

The executive order protects access to contraceptions that I'm about to sign. Just as Thomas himself said that under the reasoning of this decision-- this is what Justice Thomas said in his concurring opinion. That the court should reconsider the constitutional right to contraception, to use contraception, even among married couples. In what century are they in?

There used to be a case called "Connecticut versus Griswold," which was declared unconstitutional late '60s. It said a married couple in the privacy of their bedroom could not decide to use contraception.

Right now in all 50 states and the District of Columbia the Affordable Care Act guarantees insurance coverage for women's health services, including, including, free birth control. The executive order directs HHS to identify ways to expand access to reproductive health services, like IUDs, birth control pills, emergency contraception. And equally important, this executive order protects patient privacy and access to information, which looking at the press assembled before me, probably know more about it than I do. I'm not a tech guy. I'm learning.

But right now when you use the search engine or the app on your phone companies collect your data. They sell it to other companies or they even share it with law enforcement. There's an increasing concern that extremist governors and others will try to get that data off of your phone, which is out there in the ether, to find what you're seeking, where you're going, and what you're doing with regard to your health care.

Talk about no privacy. No privacy in the Constitution, there's no privacy, period. This executive order asks the FTC to crack down on data brokers that sell private information to extreme groups, or in my view, sell private information to anybody. It provides private health information-- it protects private health information in states with extreme laws.

The executive order strengthens coordination at a federal level. It establishes a task force led by the White House department and the Department of Human Services focused specifically on using every federal tool available to protect access to reproductive health care.

You know, let me close with this. The Court and its allies are committed to moving America backwards with fewer rights, less autonomy, and politicians invading their most personal decisions. Remember the reason of the decision has an impact much beyond "Roe" and the right to privacy generally. Marriage equality, contraception, and so much more is at risk. This decision affects everyone unrelated to choice, beyond choice.

We cannot allow an out-of-control Supreme Court working in conjunction with extremist elements of the Republican Party to take away freedoms and our personal autonomy. The choice we face as a nation between the mainstream and the extreme, between moving forward and moving backwards, between allowing politicians to enter the most personal parts of our lives and protecting the right of privacy, yes, yes, embedded in our Constitution. This is a choice.

This is a moment, the moment. The moment to restore the rights that have been taken away from us. And the moment to protect our nation from an extremist agenda that is antithetical to everything we believe as Americans. Now I'm going to sign this executive order. Executive Order protecting access to reproductive health care services.

- Mr. President, I wanted to ask about the prime minister, obviously, last night-- say about the security situation in Japan? And can you give us an update on your thinking about lifting China's tariffs?

JOE BIDEN: Let me-- I tried to put a call in to the present prime minister and he was-- it was very late there at night. I'll be talking there in the morning. And I'm going to be stopping to sign the condolence book at the Japanese embassy in the way of the CIA.

This hasn't happened in Japan in decades and decades. I'm told we'll go all the way back to the late '30s and mid-'30s. And it's a homemade weapon. I've only seen a photograph of it. The Justice Department is going to be going in and give me more detail later as they find out the detail.

But the fact is that one thing did strike my-- get my attention. That this is the first use of a weapon to murder someone in Japan. And I think we have, thus far, have 3,000-- don't hold me to the numbers. 688, or I mean, between 3,000 and 4,000 cases. They've one, one, one.

And so-- but we're going to learn more about-- as time goes on, about motive, about the whole-- but Japan, Fumio, the present prime minister, is a very solid guy. Japan is a very, very stable ally. And we-- I do not believe it's likely to have-- but I don't know yet-- likely to have any profound destabilizing impact on Japanese security or Japanese solidarity. Thank you all so very much.


- And about the tariffs as well, sir. Could you just give us your thoughts on China--

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