(PresidentialInsider.com)- With Congress unlikely to be able to codify federal abortion rights through legislation, President Joe Biden is taking matters into his own hands.
On Wednesday, he signed a new executive order that would help to ensure people have continued access to abortion, even after the Supreme Court removed the federal right to do so earlier in the summer.
Biden said this new order would help women who have to travel out of their home state to receive an abortion. Some states have banned the procedure altogether, while others have severely limited access to it. There are some states that have tried to prevent women from traveling out of their state to get an abortion in states where it is allowed.
In addition, the new executive order would help to ensure that health-care providers comply with all federal laws so that women don’t have to experience a delay in care.
Further, Biden said the order advances data collection and research “to evaluate the impact that this reproductive health crisis is having on maternal health and other conditions and outcomes.”
In signing the new executive order, Biden said:
“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, a tragic case of rape survivors, including a 10-year-old girl forced to travel to another state for care.”
Biden also referred to “chaos and uncertainty” that has happened around the country following the Supreme Court’s ruling. He added:
“Women’s health and lives are on the line.”
The president signed his new order during the first meeting of a new Task Force on Reproductive Healthcare Access that he formed recently. The group is made up of representatives from various federal agencies.
During the first meeting, members of Biden’s Cabinet briefed him on all the steps their agencies are taking to defend the reproductive rights of people in the U.S.
Biden’s order specifically directs Xavier Becerra, the secretary of Health and Human Services, 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.”
That would include any steps to give providers the necessary legal and technical guidance that would help them navigate the muddy waters of abortion care in today’s environment. With each state responsible for passing their own laws regarding abortion — and with many acting quickly to enact new legislation — there has been a lot of confusion in the medical community about what they can and cannot do.
HHS also must consider any actions that could guarantee that women who are forced to travel across state lines have access to the health-care services that they need, even if they have Medicaid. A new bill that would have codified that right failed last month in the Senate.
A senior official in the Biden administration also told CNN this week that the order directs HHS to expands its research efforts surrounding maternal health data “to accurately measure the impact that diminishing access to reproductive health care services has on women’s health.”