Chicago abortion rights supporters and opponents react to Biden's executive order

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ByWill Jones via WLS logo
Friday, July 8, 2022
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Facing mounting pressure from abortion rights supporters to take more forceful action on abortion, President Biden signed an executive order Friday aimed at preserving abortion acc

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Facing mounting pressure from abortion rights supporters to take more forceful action on abortion, President Biden signed an executive order Friday aimed at preserving abortion access.

That includes ensuring the safety of abortion patients and providers and protecting access to medication abortion and contraception.

The order also establishes a task force on reproductive health.

"It's very important that the federal government stepped up in this time and do what it can do to make sure that people have information that we're protecting patient privacy, we're protecting providers," said Brigid Leahy, vice president of public policy at Planned Parenthood Illinois Action.

Abortion rights supporters and opponents recognize Biden's actions reflect the limitations of his executive powers.

"When you actually read the order, it does very little. It is urging his various cabinet secretaries to look at certain laws that are already on the books," said Peter Breen, senior counsel at the Thomas More Society.

The executive order comes two weeks after the Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade.

Biden said it's ultimately up to Congress to protect abortion rights nationwide. Right now he doesn't have the votes to get legislation on his desk. The president is hoping the issue will fuel turnout in the midterms.

"The challenge is go out and vote. For God's sake there is an election in November," Biden said.

But the high court ruling is also galvanizing abortion rights opponents.

The decision doesn't impact access to abortions in some Democrat-led states, including Illinois.

March for Life Chicago is hosting a rally downtown Saturday.

"There's more to be done, especially in Illinois as an outlier in the Midwest," said Kevin Grillot, March for Life Chicago executive director.

Abortion rights supporters are also planning a rival demonstration downtown Saturday.

"We're in for this fight and we're never going to back down and we're not going to back out," said Dina Ninfo, speaking on behalf of Chicago NOW.