Home What’s in, and more to the point, not in the Biden executive order on abortion rights

What’s in, and more to the point, not in the Biden executive order on abortion rights

Chris Graham
Joe Biden
(© Rafael Henrique – stock.adobe.com)

President Biden, pressured to do something to respond to the Supreme Court decision overruling Roe v. Wade, did literally the least he could do, signing an executive order on Friday that won’t do much.

“President Biden has made clear that the only way to secure a woman’s right to choose is for Congress to restore the protections of Roe as federal law. Until then, he has committed to doing everything in his power to defend reproductive rights and protect access to safe and legal abortion,” the White House said in a statement on Friday.

Thing is, he doesn’t have much power, other than the bully pulpit, which he has made clear he isn’t interested in using.

That much was made obvious in a statement from White House communications director Kate Bedingfield to the Washington Post on Saturday, addressing Biden’s progressive critics.

“Joe Biden’s goal in responding to Dobbs is not to satisfy some activists who have been consistently out of step with the mainstream of the Democratic Party. It’s to deliver help to women who are in danger and assemble a broad-based coalition to defend a woman’s right to choose now, just as he assembled such a coalition to win during the 2020 campaign,” Bedingfield said.

Those “some activists,” by the way, helped elect Biden in 2020, and that coalition is shrinking by the day, if not by the hour.

A new New York Times/Siena College poll out today has 64 percent of Democrats – emphasis: Democrats! – not wanting Biden to run for re-election in 2024.

Only 4 percent said the reason they want him to bow out of a re-election run is because they feel he isn’t progressive enough.

Thirty-three percent cited age; 32 percent said job performance.

Biden, in the face of nearly two-thirds of the people who voted for him now saying they want him to go home, continues to insist that he will run again in 2024.

It seems, then, that perhaps it’s the Biden team that is “out of step with the mainstream of the Democratic Party.”

In the meantime, for better, and probably worse, he’s the guy. Abortion advocates have been pushing Biden to allow abortion providers to work from federal property in states that have banned or severely limited the right to an abortion, but press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said using federal lands for abortion services would have “dangerous ramifications.”

Neither does the order call on the Department of Justice to bring lawsuits against states that ban abortion medication, which some legal experts suggest could be justified on the theory that such bans violate the FDA’s supremacy. Nor did Biden follow the advice of some health experts who had advised him to declare a national health emergency in response to the Supreme Court ruling, which would have given some teeth to what he did include in the order.

Basically, they’re afraid to get sued, so what we get in the place of anything substantive is an interagency task force on reproductive health care access, a directive to HHS to take action to expand access to emergency contraception and IUDs, an organized pro bono effort to provide legal representation to those lawfully seeking abortions and to providers.

We also get a ramped-up public education effort “to ensure that Americans have access to reliable and accurate information about their rights and access to care,” and a related effort to protect patient privacy, calling for the establishment of guidelines reminding doctors that they are not required to disclose the private information of patients to law enforcement.

The president is going with the safe route of inaction as women and doctors who live in states with the most restrictive bans face fear of prosecution over life-and-death health decisions over miscarriages, and preteen rape survivors are forced to cross state lines to terminate their pregnancies.

And if you think he could and should do more, you’re the one out of step.

Chris Graham

Chris Graham

Chris Graham is the founder and editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1994 alum of the University of Virginia, Chris is the author and co-author of seven books, including Poverty of Imagination, a memoir published in 2019, and Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, and The Worst Wrestling Pay-Per-View Ever, published in 2018. For his commentaries on news, sports and politics, go to his YouTube page, or subscribe to his Street Knowledge podcast. Email Chris at [email protected].