Biden signs order protecting access to reproductive health services

President Biden on Friday signed an executive order aimed at protecting reproductive rights, particularly access to abortion, following the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe vs. Wade late last month.

Biden also issued a call to action, urging those who support reproductive rights to vote this fall.

“What we are witnessing was not a constitutional judgment. It was an exercise in raw political power,” Biden said at a signing ceremony Friday afternoon, citing dissenting opinion in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.

“The day the Dobbs the decision fell, I immediately announced what I would do, but I also clarified based on the reasoning of the court, there is no constitutional right to choose … the only way to achieve and restoring that right for women in this country is by voting… For God’s sake, there’s an election in November. Vote. Vote. Vote. Vote,” he urged, noting that Congress needed two more pro-choice senators and a pro-choice House in order to codify deer as federal law.

Biden also discussed steps taken by his administration to help protect people seeking abortions and other reproductive services and the providers who offer those services.

In his executive order, he directed the Justice Department to “do everything in its power” to protect women seeking reproductive health care from “intimidation” and to uphold their right to travel from states where abortions are banned to states where they are available.

As noted in a White House fact sheet, the administration argues that “Americans must remain free to travel safely to another state to get the care they need,” and the attorney general will act to defend these rights if state or local authorities attempt to interfere.

The White House attorney and attorney general will also bring together pro bono attorneys, bar associations, and other public interest stakeholders to “encourage strong legal representation for patients, providers, and third parties lawfully seeking or offering reproductive health care services throughout the country”. the fact sheet noted.

To illustrate the grave dangers women can face, Biden cited a potential scenario in which a woman who suffered a miscarriage would have to wait for a doctor to consult with hospital lawyers to determine whether she will be penalized for providing “vital care”.

“It’s outrageous and it’s dangerous,” he said.

For this reason, the executive order directs HHS to ensure that individuals who experience “pregnancy loss” have the “full rights and protections for emergency medical care” available under the law, including in under the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act, notes the fact sheet. .

The order also provides physicians with “clear guidance on their own responsibilities and protections … regardless of the state they are in,” Biden said.

In addition, the executive order directs HHS to take the following actions:

  • Promote access to the range of contraceptives available, including birth control pills, emergency contraception and long-acting reversible contraception such as intrauterine devices. Under the Affordable Care Act, coverage of preventive services for women, including free contraception, remains a right in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
  • “Protect and expand” access to medical abortion, which has been FDA-approved and available for 20 years
  • Build on public awareness and education efforts to ensure people seeking reproductive services, including abortion, have access to “reliable and accurate information” about their rights and access to care

The presidential decree also focuses on concerns about the protection of “sensitive health-related data”, which may be sold or shared without an individual’s knowledge, and “the protection of persons seeking reproductive health care from inaccurate information, fraudulent schemes or deceptive practices”.

“There is growing concern that extremist governors and others will try to extract this data from your phone, which is out there in the ether, to find what you are looking for, where you are going and what you are doing. with when it comes to your health care,” Biden noted.

To that end, the President has instructed the Chairman of the Federal Trade Commission to explore ways to protect consumer privacy when seeking information about reproductive health services and HHS to investigate how HIPAA can help protect sensitive health information.

HHS has previously released guidance to help individuals secure their private medical information on mobile apps, warning of the dangers of period trackers, for example. The guidelines “also help to ensure that physicians and other medical providers and health plans know that, with limited exceptions, they are not required – and in many cases are not permitted – to disclose private information. patients, including law enforcement. the fact sheet noted.

The decree also includes additional measures focused on protecting the safety and security of patients, providers, clinics and “entities that provide, provide or provide reproductive health care services”, including mobile clinics. supporting out-of-state patients.

In addition, the administration plans to launch an interagency task force on access to reproductive health care, led by HHS and the White House Gender Policy Council to coordinate federal policy development. The Attorney General, as part of this working group, will extend technical assistance to states providing legal protection to patients and to out-of-state providers offering legal reproductive health care.

Jack Resneck, Jr., MD, president of the American Medical Association, praised the president’s actions.

“For doctors and patients, this is a frightening and difficult time, with unprecedented new concerns about data privacy, access to contraception and even when to start lifesaving care,” he said. in a press release. “We hope these first steps announced today will be clarifying and effective as we continue the essential work needed to ensure access to comprehensive reproductive health care.”

Just before signing the order, Biden said, “This is a choice. This is a moment. A moment to restore the rights that have been taken away from us and a moment to protect our nation from an extremist agenda that is antithetical to everything we believe as Americans.”

  • Shannon Firth has reported on health policy as MedPage Today’s Washington correspondent since 2014. She is also a member of the site’s Enterprise & Investigative Reporting team. Follow

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