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Under Pressure, Biden Will Issue Executive Order on Abortion

WASHINGTON — Under pressure to do more to respond to the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, President Biden will issue an executive order on Friday aimed at ensuring access to contraception and other women’s health services, White House officials said.

Details about what the president’s new order will do remain unclear. A fact sheet released by the White House said that the order would direct the secretary of health and human services to take a series of steps and report back within 30 days.

Those steps include taking action to safeguard and broaden access to abortion care, ensure access to emergency medical care, bolster outreach and public education and help organize private lawyers to represent patients.

The order will seek to safeguard patient privacy regarding sensitive data and increase efforts to protect the physical safety of patients at health clinics, according to the fact sheet, and it will set up an interagency task force.

Mr. Biden has repeatedly said that he does not have the authority to restore the constitutional right to abortion that the court ended when it overturned Roe. In the hours after the ruling, the president said he was powerless to restore the status quo.

“The only way we can secure a woman’s right to choose and the balance that existed is for Congress to restore the protections of Roe v. Wade as federal law,” Mr. Biden said. “No executive action from the president can do that.”

But that attempt to shift the responsibility to Congress has not gone over well among some of Mr. Biden’s core supporters, who have repeatedly called on the White House to push harder to find novel ways around the court decision and the subsequent limits on abortion imposed by Republican-led state legislatures.

Some activists and lawmakers, for example, have urged the president to establish abortion services on federal land or on Native American territories, where state laws banning abortion services might not be enforceable. The White House has dismissed those ideas as legally unworkable and potentially even more dangerous for women seeking abortions.

On Thursday, a reporter asked Karine Jean-Pierre, the White House press secretary, whether the president was examining the possibility that the Department of Veterans Affairs could offer abortion services at V.A. hospitals.

“As you know, current regulation doesn’t allow for the V.A. to provide abortions,” Ms. Jean-Pierre said. “We’re going to continue to review. We’re going to continue to explore every possible option to protect women’s rights and access to reproductive health.”

Asked about a possible executive order related to abortion, Ms. Jean-Pierre declined to answer the question, saying she would not “get ahead of the president.”

Mr. Biden is expected to sign the executive order on Friday before leaving for a weekend at his beach house in Delaware. The fact sheet does not include any of the more far-reaching suggestions about using federal resources to provide abortion services.

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