Biden’s new abortion executive order could fund interstate travel

President Joe Biden speaks from the balcony of the Blue Room of the White House on Monday in Washington. Biden plans to sign a second executive order on Wednesday asking his health department to consider authorizing the use of Medicaid funds for patients who travel out of state for abortions. (Jim Watson, Pool via Associated Press)

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WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden plans to sign a second executive order on Wednesday asking his health department to consider authorizing the use of Medicaid funds for patients who travel out of state for abortions.

The order, like the first signed in July, seeks to respond to the Supreme Court’s recent decision to end the nation’s constitutional right to abortion. It is expected to have limited impact, as Republicans in US states push a wave of laws restricting abortion, access to drugs and funding for these services.

The president’s actions come a day after Kansas voters rejected such an effort, aimed at removing abortion protections from the state constitution. The vote was a resounding victory for the abortion rights movement in the first statewide electoral test since the Supreme Court ruling.

Last month, Biden said the Supreme Court, which is weighted 6-3 with conservative justices, was ‘out of control’ after deciding in June to overturn Roe v Wade, ending a half-century of protection women’s reproductive rights. Its first order in early July directed the federal government’s Department of Health to expand access to medical abortion and ensure that women who travel for abortions are protected.

The last action builds on these measurements. But like the first, it remains vague on how these goals can be achieved. He asks the Department of Health and Human Services to consider using funds, including Medicaid, the federally and state-funded insurance program it oversees, to support low-income women. traveling out of state for abortion services, a senior administration official said.

It calls on Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra to consider inviting states to request Medicaid waivers when treating patients who cross state lines for reproductive health services, said the manager, without giving further details.

The Hyde Amendment, a congressional measure, states that Medicaid will not pay for an abortion unless the woman’s life is in danger or the pregnancy results from rape or incest, making the effectiveness of prescription uncertain.

It also directs the department to ensure health care providers follow federal non-discrimination laws when providing such services and directs it to collect data to measure the decision’s impact on maternal health. , added the manager.

The president will sign off on the order at the first meeting of the interagency working group on access to reproductive health care, which was formed in July.

Senate Democrats have rejected Biden’s call to lift the chamber’s ‘filibuster’ rule requiring 60 of 100 senators to agree on most laws to allow them to pass legislation establishing a right national abortion.

In an equally divided Senate, US Vice President Kamala Harris can cast a deciding vote.

Since then, Biden has pivoted to urging voters to elect more Democrats to Congress in the Nov. 8 midterm elections, when Republicans are favored to win back a majority in the House of Representatives and possibly the Senate as well.

Democrats hope the question can help lead voters to the polls in November.

Protecting abortion rights is a major issue for Democratic women, according to a Reuters poll. More than 70% of Americans think the matter should be left to a woman and her doctor.

On Tuesday, Biden’s Justice Department sued Idaho for blocking a state law it says imposes a “near absolute ban” on abortion, marking its first legal challenge to abortion laws. since the Supreme Court decision.

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