Aug. 3 (UPI) — The White House said Wednesday that President Joe Biden will sign an executive order allowing the Department of Health and Human Services to probe using Medicaid to pay expenses for those who cross state lines to receive an abortion.
The move is the latest by Biden, under increasing pressure by Democrats, to address the Supreme Court‘s decision to strike down a woman’s federal right to an abortion that had been guaranteed by Roe vs. Wade.
The administration said the executive order seeks to protect access to protect a woman’s access to reproductive healthcare services and to “defend women’s fundamental rights.”
Biden will join Vice President Kamala Harris‘s initial meeting of the Task Force on Reproductive Healthcare Access, at which the cabinet will discuss its progress and the path forward to address the women’s health issues since the Supreme Court ruling.
“[The] executive order directs the Secretary of Health and Human Services to consider action to advance access to reproductive healthcare services, including through Medicaid for patients who travel out of state for reproductive healthcare services,” a fact sheet released by the White House said.
It added: “This directive is in line with the president and the attorney general’s clear statements on the administration’s commitment to defending the bedrock right to travel across state lines to seek reproductive healthcare in states where those services remain legal.”
The White House said the actions could include providing technical assistance for health care providers who may be confused or unsure of their obligations in the aftermath of the Supreme Court decision.
The administration said it also could bring together providers to convey information on their obligations and the potential consequences of non-compliance and issue additional guidance or take other appropriate action in response to any complaints or reports of non-compliance with federal non-discrimination laws.
Wednesday’s task force meeting comes a day after Kansas voters soundly rejected an amendment that would have paved the way for strict abortion restrictions there. More than 61% of Kansans voted “no” on the measure, indicating they wanted the abortion protections to remain in place.