In response to a pro-life Texas law, President Joe Biden is engaged in performative vice signaling. At best.
The courts will likely strike down the new law deputizing Texans effectively to enforce a ban on abortions after six weeks, but the Biden administration, eager to distract from a number of scandals, has pounced on the Lone Star State. Biden has promised a "whole-of-government" response to the law, with the president promising to weaponize the Justice Department against the state.
Considering his failure effectively to mobilize against the Taliban, stagflation, the pandemic, and the border crisis, this sudden energy against Texas is hard to take seriously. But what really gives the lie to his concern about women's bodily autonomy is not his words, but his actions — or rather, his inaction.
Biden would require monumental gains in Congress to succeed in codifying Roe v. Wade, which protects abortions at least until the point of fetal viability. But the head of the executive branch has another clear avenue to help women prevent unwanted pregnancies at all: the Food and Drug Administration.
Although the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Academy of Family Physicians, and the American Medical Association have all publicly endorsed over-the-counter status for oral contraceptives, the decision is ultimately up to the FDA. Biden could demand that the FDA start the review process to make birth control an over-the-counter drug at the federal level, a feat that would most benefit uninsured women by driving down the list price of the pill and removing the financial burden of needing to pay a doctor for a prescription. There's ample precedent here: The FDA already did this to expand access to an emergency contraception brand, but the over-the-counter status never went into effect because then-Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius made the unprecedented decision to overrule the FDA.
So Biden could do something that not only is broadly supported by people of all political stripes but also has a marked ability to prevent unplanned pregnancies from occurring in the first place. Or he can score cheap political points while whining about a law that surely will be struck down by the courts on the merits. His party may genuinely believe Texas constitutes a feminist emergency, but it's clear that Biden doesn't actually buy his own performance.