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Biden to sign abortion executive order
In a speech before the signing, he’s also expected to double down on his call for people who care about reproductive justice to vote this November.
👋🏾 Hi, hey, hello!
It’s a newsy summer Friday, led by two big domestic and international headlines.
First, our Japanese friends are mourning the apparent assassination late last night of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who was shot while giving a speech in support of his party’s candidates ahead of an election this Sunday. (The suspect, currently in custody, reportedly made his gun. This tracks since guns are banned in Japan.) Japan is one of the US’s closest allies whose cooperation we rely on to contain the economic threat posed by China and the heightened aggression from Kim Jong-un of North Korea.
“This is a tragedy for Japan and for all who knew him,” President Joe Biden said in a statement that expressed grief and solidarity with the Japanese people. “The longest serving Japanese Prime Minister, his vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific will endure. Above all, he cared deeply about the Japanese people and dedicated his life to their service. Even at the moment he was attacked, he was engaged in the work of democracy.”
Here at home, the June jobs report was just posted. The 372,000 jobs created and steady 3.6 percent unemployment rate are likely to motivate the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates again and reinforce the White House position that all this recent recession talk is a bit premature.
In other news…
Two weeks after the Supreme Court issued a devastating decision that overturned the federal right to abortion care, President Biden this morning will speak on what many people see as a public health crisis and sign an executive order to negate some of the decision’s worst impacts on pregnant people.
He’s expected during the speech to double down on his call for people who care about reproductive justice to vote this November. The administration feels the straightest, quickest path to enshrining the right to abortion care as law is to maintain the House and expand the Senate majorities, which would allow Congress to overcome Republican opposition to any such efforts. (National Democrats see Pennsylvania and Wisconsin as two pick-up opportunities to advance this cause.) Congress returns from a two-week recess next week so you should expect Democrats in both chambers to highlight this issue every chance they get.
The order, in part, will direct the Department of Health and Human Services to take additional action to protect and expand access to medication abortion and ensure pregnant women and those experiencing pregnancy loss can receive emergency contraception and IUDs. HHS will also launch a public outreach campaign to educate Americans about their rights and access to care.
Attorney General Merrick Garland and White House Counsel Dana Remus will team up to make sure patients, providers and third parties legally seeking or offering abortion care have representation from private pro bono attorneys, bar associations, and public interest organizations if they need it. And to coordinate the executive branch’s abortion care policymaking and program development, HHS and WH gender policy council will establish and lead an interagency task force.
Data privacy has been a hot topic in the aftermath of the decision, as people wonder if their internet searches and personal information related to seeking or helping someone receive abortion care could be later used against them.
The president’s executive order will prevent the transfer and sales of sensitive health-related data and protect people seeking abortion care from misinformation, fraud and deceptive practices. The HHS Office of Civil Rights has also published two guides, which break down how the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Privacy Rule safeguards your protected health information and how to protect your personal data on mobile apps.
Mobile clinics are at heightened risk of violence following the decision for offering abortion care to out-of-state patients. The White House will direct resources to promote public safety on this front too.
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Critics both within Biden’s own party and who supported him after their preferred candidate lost the 2020 presidential primary say his administration was given an extraordinary opportunity to prepare for the Supreme Court’s decision since a draft opinion leaked weeks ahead of the official announcement. White House officials and the president himself set an expectation that the speech he’s giving and the EO he’s signing today would have been delivered and autographed immediately upon his return from Europe last week.
The administration feels this gripe is unfair since President Biden addressed the nation a couple of hours after the decision dropped and announced directives for HHS to protect access to medication abortion and the Justice Department to keep safe people crossing state lines for abortion care.
Biden in the days since has met with governors on abortion rights. (The tea is the meeting was so last minute that most of the state leaders on the call didn’t bother to attend in person.) Administration officials have also met with state attorneys general from pro-choice states for a download on their work to protect access to abortion care. And he endorsed a change to Senate rules to federalize abortion care — but two Democratic senators immediately poured water on this idea. This, by the way, is why the president keeps asking you to vote this fall so the duo who has blocked most of his domestic agenda has less power in the final two years of his first term.
There’s also a growing frustration from progressive Democrats that the White House is too focused on inflation and would be better served by doubling down on reproductive justice, gun violence and the so-called culture-war issues that Republicans have weaponized to great effect at the state level.
The administration pushes back with data that points to the economy as the top issue for many voters in this midterm cycle. The president is betting his team’s laser focus on the fundamentals of American life — jobs, taxes, gas prices and food costs, to name a few — will pay dividends during what’s expected to be a brutal election for the party, particularly due to his historically low poll numbers.
Vice President Kamala Harris, who has been a valuable leader in the White House’s work on reproductive justice and will attend the president’s speech, is also scheduled to meet this afternoon with state legislative leaders from five anti-choice states (Indiana, Florida, South Dakota, Nebraska and Montana) to extend the administration’s support as they work on the frontlines to protect access to abortion care.