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Biden signs decree on abortion and access to contraception

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WASHINGTON, July 8 (Reuters) – U.S. President Joe Biden will sign an executive order Friday to help protect women’s access to abortion and contraception after the Supreme Court overturned last month’s Roe v Wade decision that legalized abortion, it said. White House.

Biden, a Democrat, is under pressure from supporters, especially progressives, to take action after the landmark decision, which turned about 50 years of protecting women’s reproductive rights upside down.

The president’s powers are limited as US states can make laws restricting abortion and access to drugs, and the executive order is expected to have limited impact.

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Biden will direct the Department of Health and Human Services to take action to protect and expand access to “medication abortion” approved by the Food and Drug Administration, the White House said.

Experts have said it’s unlikely that a pill used to terminate early pregnancies will be available without a prescription for years. States that already restrict the medication would not be affected by the presidential order.

He will also lead the department to ensure women have access to emergency medical care, family planning services and contraception, including intrauterine devices (IUDs).

Biden’s attorney general and White House counsel will convene pro bono lawyers and other organizations to provide legal advice to patients seeking an abortion, as well as abortion providers.

“Such representation could include protecting the right to travel out of the state to seek medical care,” the White House said in a statement.

The Supreme Court ruling restored states’ ability to ban abortion. As a result, women with unwanted pregnancies face the choice of traveling to another state where the procedure remains legal and available, buying abortion pills online, or having a potentially dangerous illegal abortion.

Biden, who will comment on the matter at 11:30 a.m. EDT (1530 GMT), has condemned the court’s ruling. Conservatives and anti-abortion activists celebrated.

The issue could help Democrats go to the polls in November’s midterm elections, when Republicans have a chance to take control of Congress. Democrats hold a slim majority in the House of Representatives and control the evenly divided Senate through the casting vote of Vice President Kamala Harris.

Biden’s executive order on Friday also focuses on protecting patient privacy and ensuring the safety of mobile abortion clinics on state borders, and it is leading the creation of a task force to review the government’s response to access to to coordinate reproductive health care, the White House said.

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Reporting by Jeff Mason; Editing by Edwina Gibbs, Heather Timmons and Deepa Babington

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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