President Joe Biden signed an executive order on abortion access with the aim of assisting women who travel across state lines for an abortion.
Biden has directed the Department of Health and Human Services to begin determining how the federal government can assist women with abortion-related travel.
The Securing Access to Reproductive and Other Healthcare Services Executive Order sets out three major priorities for the Biden administration.
First, Biden has asked Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra “to consider action to advance access to reproductive healthcare services.” Specifically, the secretary has been tasked with determining how Medicaid could be used to assist “patients who travel out of state for reproductive healthcare services.”
The administration said it is committed “to defending the bedrock right to travel across state lines to seek reproductive healthcare in states where those services remain legal.”
The president has also asked Becerra to ensure that health care providers comply with federal non-discrimination laws. This could include clarifying what obligations providers have to women seeking abortion in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade and warning them of the consequences of non-compliance.
The Executive Order also asked the 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.”
A senior official told CNBC that the Biden administration has considered protecting access to the abortion pill by declaring a public health emergency.
Biden, who is currently isolating in the White House residence, signed the order while virtually attending the first meeting of the new Task Force on Reproductive Healthcare Access, which will be led by Vice President Kamala Harris.
“Today, I’m signing the second executive order that responds to the healthcare crisis that has unfolded since the Supreme Court overturned Roe, and that women are facing all across America,” he said at the Aug. 3 meeting, per ABC News.
He added that the Supreme Court’s June 24 decision “practically dared women in this country go to the ballot box and restore the right to choose that the Court just ripped away after 50 years.”
“Women’s health and lives are on the line,” said Biden. “Emergency medical care being denied to women experiencing miscarriages, doctors uncertain about what they can do to provide for their patients, pharmacists unsure whether they can fill prescriptions that they’ve always filled before.”
Becerra is also a member of the Committee alongside Jennifer Klein, the Director of the White House Gender Policy Council.