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U.S. President Joe Biden signed an executive order on abortion access on Friday, as the issue continues to divide American society.

The move comes two weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the landmark Roe v. Wade decision and eliminated the constitutional protection of abortion rights for women in the nation.

U.S. President Joe Biden signs an executive order protecting access to reproductive health care services, in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., July 8, 2022. /CFP

The order directs the government’s health department to expand access to “medication abortion” – pills prescribed to end pregnancies – and ensure women have access to emergency medical care, family planning services and contraception. It also mentions protecting doctors, women who travel for abortions and mobile abortion clinics at state borders.

But it offered few specifics and promises to have limited impact in practice, since U.S. states can make laws restricting abortion and access to medication.

Progressive lawmakers and abortion rights groups welcomed the directive. Senator Elizabeth Warren called it “important first steps,” and asked the administration to explore every available option to protect abortion rights.

Abortion has been one of the most divisive issues in the United States.

The Supreme Court ruled in 1973 that the U.S. constitution generally protects the liberty to choose to have an abortion. But anti-abortion groups have actively sought to have the decision overturned, engaging in legal and public opinion battles with the other side on the issue over the past decades.

The Women’s March has planned to rally in Washington, D.C. on Saturday to pressure the White House to do more to protect abortion rights.

The rally is scheduled to start at Franklin Square Park in the morning, followed by a march to the White House and a sit-in, according to a press release. The group estimated up to 10,000 people will be in attendance.

(With input from agencies)

Published By Odoh Dominic Chukwuemeka

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