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Biden's Executive Orders on Abortion Aim to Protect Women's Healthcare Rights

Jennifer Farrington - Author
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Aug. 3 2022, Published 12:13 p.m. ET

When the Supreme Court decided to overturn Roe v. Wade, a woman’s right to access reproductive healthcare was thrown into question. This is because the ruling gave states, not women, the upper hand in deciding if and when an abortion can be performed. Although President Joe Biden can’t reinstate the previous law, he's issuing a second executive order on abortion on Aug. 3.

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Will Biden’s executive orders make it easier for women to access an abortion?

Biden’s latest executive order on abortion aims to protect access to reproductive healthcare services.

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On Aug. 3, President Biden will sign an executive order at the first meeting of the interagency Task Force on Reproductive Healthcare Access, according to a White House press release. The order outlines several actions intended to be taken, which include:

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Supporting those who must travel out of state to receive medical care.

Biden’s latest executive order directs the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to “advance access to reproductive healthcare services,” including Medicaid, for women who must travel out of their home state to seek care.

This measure comes after Republicans blocked a bill that would guarantee women the right to travel across state lines to seek abortions using a Medicaid 1115 waiver, reports CNN. The waiver permits states to “waive certain state-based requirements in providing care and assisting in covering certain costs.”

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"Ensure healthcare providers comply with federal nondiscrimination laws."

Biden has tasked HHS with ensuring healthcare providers are in compliance with “federal non-discrimination laws so that women receive medically necessary care without delay.” This might include offering providers who are “confused or unsure of their obligations” technical assistance.

Expand and improve research on the "impact that diminishing access to reproductive health care services has on women’s health."

Biden’s executive order also calls for the Secretary of HHS to “evaluate and improve research, data collection, and data analysis efforts” to determine the impact the reduced access to reproductive health care services has on a woman’s overall health.

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What does Biden’s July 2022 executive order on abortion actually do?

On July 8, 2022, the White House announced an executive order that would defend a woman’s rights to reproductive healthcare services and their ability to access abortion safely and legally. That order came roughly two weeks after the Supreme Court took away a woman’s right to an abortion.

That executive order contained several actions to be taken by HHS, some of which included:

  • Protect a woman’s right to access medication abortion, which was approved by the FDA over 20 years ago and is considered to be “safe and effective.”
  • Ensure pregnant women and those who have suffered a pregnancy loss have access to the full rights and protections for emergency medical care afforded under the law.”
  • Expand access to emergency contraception and long-acting reversible contraception.
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It’s worth noting that Biden’s executive orders on abortion can only stretch so far. If women want to regain the right to choose, Congress would need to restore the laws outlined in Roe v. Wade.

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