Biden to sign executive order to help patients travel for abortions

Biden to sign executive order to help patients travel for abortions

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President Biden signed an executive order Wednesday directing his health secretary to consider measures to help patients who travel out of state for abortions.

The order’s travel-related provision calls on Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Bezer to consider inviting states to apply for Medicaid waivers when treating patients who cross state lines for reproductive health services.

On August 3, President Biden signed an executive order designed to help patients travel for abortions. (Video: White House)

The executive order, the second Biden has signed on reproductive health since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, follows the administration’s call for the Department of Health and Human Services to explore all options to support Americans who live in states with strict restrictions on abortion access. The president’s action came a day after Kansas voters rejected an effort to strip their state of abortion protections.

“[Republicans] I have no idea about the power of American women,” Biden said Wednesday before signing the order. “They found out last night in Kansas.”

After the Supreme Court decision, Biden and Attorney General Merrick Garland vowed to protect Americans’ ability to cross national borders to seek abortions and other reproductive health services.

Biden, who is in self-isolation as he continues to test positive for the coronavirus, signed the executive order ahead of the first meeting of Vice President Harris’ interagency task force on access to reproductive health. The President joined the meeting virtually.

Two Long Weeks: Inside Biden’s Struggle to Respond to Abortion Decision

The executive order also directs Becerra to consider steps to ensure that health care providers follow federal nondiscrimination laws to ensure women receive medically necessary care, which could include providing technical assistance to providers confused about their responsibilities following the Supreme Court ruling.

Finally, the order calls on Becerra to improve research and data collection on maternal health outcomes.

In early July, Biden signed an executive order directing Becerra to identify ways the administration can help expand access to abortion, and said he wants to protect access to medication abortions, or the abortion pill.

Biden last month referred to what he called “the Supreme Court’s terrible, extreme and, in my opinion, so wrong decision.”

He added: “The court has made it clear that it will not protect women’s rights — period. Period. After the court made its decision based on reading a document that was frozen in the 1860s, when women didn’t even have the right to vote, the court is now practically daring America women go to the polls and restore the ballot box.the very right they just took away.

But many activists have criticized Biden for being too slow to react to the decision, especially given that the draft opinion was leaked weeks before the official decision. Activists and some Democratic members of Congress have called on the administration to declare access to abortion a public health emergency.

In some states, women who need medical care for miscarriage are delayed or denied care because of legal uncertainty, putting some women’s lives at risk.

A group of more than 80 Democratic House lawmakers sent a letter to Biden and Becerra last month urging them to make abortion a public health emergency. But the White House opposes the move because it would provide little additional funding and would likely end up in the Supreme Court, which could use the case to limit the federal government’s emergency powers.

Yasmeen Abutaleb contributed to this report.

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