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On Wednesday, President Joe Biden signed an executive order to help women cross state lines for abortion services.
The executive order is his second after the Supreme Court decided to strike down the constitutional right to trial.
Biden’s order directs the federal Department of Health and Human Services to consider facilitating Medicaid funding for out-of-state travel for abortions.
Last month, the president signed the first executive order to respond to the Supreme Court’s decision.
The order also directs HHS to ensure that health care providers comply with federal anti-discrimination laws so that women can receive “medically necessary care as soon as possible.”
Biden’s order is expected to have limited impact as Republicans lead a wave of statewide legislation restricting abortion, medication access, and funding for similar services.
What led to the order?
On Tuesday, Kansas voters vehemently rejected an electoral measure that would have deleted the language from the state constitution to protect abortion rights.
The vote was a landslide victory for the abortion rights movement in the first statewide election test since the Supreme Court ruling.
Kansas stands at the borders of states following the Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, including Oklahoma and Missouri.
As a result, Kansas has become a destination for out-of-state women seeking access to abortion treatment.
President Joe Biden continued his COVID isolation as he spoke virtually with his newly formed task force on access to reproductive health care.
On the call, Biden called the state of abortion access a “health crisis” and warned that Republicans want to ban the procedure nationwide.
“I don’t think the court has any notion for that matter or the Republican party for that matter… how women are going to respond,” said Biden on Wednesday.
“They don’t have a clue about the power of American women. Last night in Kansas, they found out.”
Biden also called the Kansas result a “decisive victory” and said voters sent a “strong signal” that politicians had no right to interfere with women’s human rights.
“This fight is not over, and we saw that last night in Kansas,” said Biden.
“The court practically dared women in this country to go to the ballot box and restore the right to choose.”
Building on the measures
In early July, Biden issued his first executive order, directing the federal government’s Department of Health and Human Services to expand access to medical abortion to protect women traveling for abortions.
The president’s latest order builds on the measurements. But as with the first order, how it can be achieved remains unclear.
According to a senior administration official, the second order prompts the Department of Health and Human Services to consider using funds like Medicaid to support low-income women traveling abroad for abortion services.
It also urges Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra to push states to apply for Medicaid exemption while treating patients traveling for reproductive health services.
The Hyde Amendment
A Congressional measure called the Hyde Amendment says Medicaid won’t pay for an abortion.
The only exception is if the woman’s life is in danger or if the pregnancy results from rape or incest.
It also instructs the department to ensure that healthcare professionals act following federal laws on non-discrimination when providing such services.
The provision also provides for data collection to measure the sentence’s impact on maternal health.
Biden and Kamala Harris
President Joe Biden signed the executive order during the first meeting of the Interagency Task Force on Access to Reproductive Health Care.
Vice President Kamala Harris joined him at the meeting, calling the abortion issue “America’s public health crisis.”
Senate Democrats have rejected Biden’s call to repeal the chamber’s ‘filibuster’ rule, which requires 60 out of 100 senators to agree on most laws for everyone to pass a law officially designating abortion as national law.
Kamala Harris can cast a deciding vote in the event of an evenly divided senate.