President Joe Biden has issued an Executive Order aimed at protecting women’s abortion rights that were curtailed by the Supreme Court decision to overrule Roe v. Wade.
In an Executive Order that he signed at the first meeting of the interagency taskforce Wednesday, Biden directed the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to consider action to advance access to reproductive healthcare services, including through Medicaid to help women seeking abortions to travel between states to obtain access to the procedure.
Women from states where abortion ban is in force travel across the border seeking reproductive healthcare services in other states where the procedure is legally allowed.
The Executive Order directs the Secretary of HHS to consider all appropriate actions to ensure health care providers comply with Federal non-discrimination laws so that women receive medically necessary care without delay.
To accurately measure the impact that diminishing access to reproductive health care services has on women’s health, the Executive Order directs the Secretary of HHS to evaluate and improve research, data collection, and data analysis efforts at the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on maternal health and other health outcomes.
The continued advancement of restrictive abortion laws in States across the country has created legal uncertainty and disparate access to reproductive healthcare services depending on where a person lives, putting patients, providers, and third parties at risk and fueling confusion for hospitals and healthcare providers, including pharmacies.
There have been several reports of women being denied health- and life-saving emergency care, as providers fearing legal reprisal delay necessary treatment for patients until their conditions worsen to dangerous levels. There are also reports of women of reproductive age being denied prescription medication at pharmacies — including medicines used to treat stomach ulcers, lupus, arthritis, and cancer — due to concerns that some of them can be used in medication abortions and to terminate pregnancy. A healthcare provider reportedly temporarily stopped providing emergency contraception citing a State law restricting abortion.
On Wednesday, Cabinet heads reported to the President on the progress they have made in implementing his July 8 Executive Order on Protecting Access to Reproductive Healthcare Services,
President Biden continues to call on Congress to codify the right to abortion into federal law and has said he would support changing the filibuster rules to codify Roe v. Wade into law.
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