Abortion rights: Biden to sign second executive order to protect access and provide guidance to healthcare providers

Biden is expected to sign the executive order at the inaugural meeting of the administration’s recently created Task Force on Access to Reproductive Health Care, a task force comprised of representatives from multiple federal government departments. Cabinet members are also expected to brief the president on steps their respective agencies have taken “to uphold reproductive rights” at Wednesday’s meeting, an administration official told reporters on Tuesday.

Wednesday’s executive order directs Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra to consider “all appropriate measures to ensure that health care providers comply with federal non-discrimination laws so that women receive medically necessary care without delay,” including steps to provide health care providers with technical information and legal advice amid the state’s patchwork of legal restrictions on abortion care following the Supreme Court decision.

Last month, CNN reported that doctors had struggled to navigate Byzantine guidelines as states across the country passed ever-tighter abortion restrictions, with experts warning of ‘a huge chilling effect’ about doctors performing miscarriage surgeries, even when the doctors “are confident that what they are doing is within the letter of the law.”
Wednesday’s order also directs HHS to consider actions to ensure that women traveling across state lines to have abortions have access to health care services, including through Medicaid. Last month, a bill guaranteeing women the right to cross state lines to have abortions failed to pass the Senate after Republicans blocked the measure.
According to the official, this would allow states to provide care to out-of-state patients seeking abortions through a Medicaid 1115 waiver, allowing states to waive certain state requirements for providing care. and to help cover “some costs”.

The executive order further directs HHS to expand its maternal health data research efforts, “to accurately measure the impact that declining access to reproductive health services is having on women’s health,” it said. the official said on Tuesday.

Wednesday’s executive order is the second signed by Biden following the Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade. Last month, Biden signed an order he said would protect 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 take no action to restore the national right to abortion, and Biden has publicly acknowledged that his options for expanding abortion access remain limited.

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