Biden is expected to sign the executive order at the inaugural meeting of the administration’s recently established Reproductive Health Care Task Force, made up of representatives from several federal government departments. Cabinet members should also brief the president on actions taken by their respective agencies “to protect reproductive rights,” an administration official told reporters Tuesday.
Wednesday’s executive order directs Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra to consider “all necessary steps to ensure that health care providers comply with federal nondiscrimination laws so that women receive prompt medically necessary care,” including steps to provide health care providers with technical and legal guidance among state legal restrictions on abortion care enacted after the Supreme Court decision.
Last month, CNN reported
doctors have struggled to follow the byzantine guidelines as states across the country impose increasingly strict abortion restrictions, with experts warning of a “tremendous chilling effect” on doctors performing abortions, even if doctors “are confident that what they’re doing is within the law.”
Wednesday’s order also directs HHS to consider actions to ensure access to health care, including Medicaid, for women who travel across state lines and seek abortions. Last month, a bill was passed to guarantee women the right to travel across state lines to seek abortions failed to pass the Senate
after Republicans blocked the measure.
That would allow states to provide assistance to out-of-state patients seeking abortions, the official said Medicaid 1115 Waiver
allowing states to waive certain state requirements for care and to help cover “certain costs.”
The executive order further directs HHS to expand efforts to examine maternal health data “to accurately assess the impact that reduced access to reproductive health care has on women’s health,” the official said Tuesday.
Wednesday’s executive order is the second signed by Biden
after the Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade. Last month, Biden signed an order that he said would ensure access to abortion care and contraceptives, protect patient privacy and establish an interagency task force to use “all available federal tools to protect access to reproductive health care.”
Ultimately, however, the president can’t take any action to restore abortion rights nationwide, and Biden has publicly acknowledged that his ability to expand abortion access remains limited.