US President Joe Biden said the Supreme Court ruling overturning abortion rights was an exercise of “crude political power” and signed an executive order on Friday to make it easier to access abortion services.
Biden, a Democrat, has been under pressure from his own party to act since last month’s landmark decision overturning Roe v. Wade, which overturned roughly 50 years of protections for women’s reproductive rights.
The order directs the government’s health department to expand access to “medical abortion” — pills prescribed to end a pregnancy — and to ensure women have access to emergency medical care, family planning services and contraception. It also mentions protections for doctors, women who travel for abortions and mobile abortion clinics at state borders.
But it offers few details and promises to have limited practical impact, as US states can pass laws restricting abortion and access to medicine.
“What we witnessed was not a constitutional decision, but an exercise of raw political power,” Biden told reporters at the White House. “We cannot allow an out-of-control Supreme Court, working in concert with extremist elements of the Republican Party, to take away our liberties and personal autonomy.”
The White House has not publicly entertained the idea of reforming the court itself or expanding the nine-member panel.
Instead, Biden laid out how abortion rights could be codified into law by voters if they elect “two additional pro-choice senators and the pro-choice House” and urged women to turn out in record numbers to vote. He said he would veto any legislation passed by Republicans to ban abortion rights nationwide.