Biden issues executive order to improve women’s health research

President Joe Biden smiles after signing an executive order on women's health, during a Women's History Month event in the East Room of the White House, Monday, March 18, 2024, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

By Isabel Soisson

March 20, 2024

President Joe Biden on Monday signed an executive order to expand the federal government’s research into women’s health, an action that the White House described as the “most comprehensive” action ever taken by a president on the matter. 

The order directs federal agencies to ensure that they are using federal funds to research diseases and health conditions that disproportionately affect women—or only affect women—such as fibroids, menopause, arthritis and heart disease, and Alzheimer’s disease.

Agencies will be required to report their investments in women’s health research annually under the order; they’ll also be required to study ways that artificial intelligence can be used to advance such research. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) will also increase investments in small businesses focused on women’s health by 50%. Additionally, the Department of Defense will invest $10 million into studying cancers and mental health issues that affect women in active military service. 

The order also calls on Congress to pass a plan to invest $12 billion into creating a new fund for women’s health research at the NIH. In the meantime, however, the order directs the NIH to spend $200 million on women’s health research and start-up companies. 

“Women are more than half of our population but research on women’s health has always been underfunded,” Biden said during his State of the Union address earlier this month. “That’s why we’re launching the first-ever White House Initiative on Women’s Health Research, led by Jill who is doing an incredible job as First Lady.” 

Speaking at the White House on Monday, Biden said that improving women’s health was key to maintaining a strong economy.

“There’s not a damn thing a man can do a woman can’t do,” Biden said. “To state the obvious, if you want to have the strongest economy in the world, you can’t leave half of the country behind.”

Biden also used the speech as an opportunity to once again criticize Donald Trump and other Republicans for their continued efforts to restrict women’s access to health care, including abortion.

In 2022, the US Supreme Court—stacked with three Trump appointees—overturned Roe v. Wade, which has led to disastrous consequences on women’s health. The Alabama Supreme Court also ruled last month that frozen embryos are children, calling into question the future of in-vitro fertilization. 

“You can’t lead America with old ideas and take us backwards,” Biden said on Monday. “To lead the land of possibilities, you need a vision for the future laying out what we can and should do and what we’re going to do.”

Author

  • Isabel Soisson

    Isabel Soisson is a multimedia journalist who has worked at WPMT FOX43 TV in Harrisburg, along with serving various roles at CNBC, NBC News, Philadelphia Magazine, and Philadelphia Style Magazine.

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