WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden will sign a new executive order Wednesday that would support individuals traveling out state for an abortion.
Biden’s executive order will direct Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra to consider actions that would expand access for individuals seeking reproductive healthcare services, including expanding Medicaid to cover travel costs.
However, the executive order will not result in any immediate policies being implemented. And, it’s unclear how the Hyde Amendment – a long-standing prohibition on using federal funds for abortion – could interfere with actions as a result of the executive order.
The action comes after the Supreme Court in June issued a ruling that overturned the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade, which established a constitutional right to abortion.
Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris will also convene the first interagency task force on reproductive healthcare access along with Becerra and Jennifer Klein, director of the White House Gender Policy Council.
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The executive order stops short of a public health emergency, something that pro-abortion advocates and some Democrats and progressives have been advocating for.
A senior administration official said that while the administration is still continuing to look into all options, a public health emergency doesn’t really offer too much in the way of resources or legal authority. The official said that some of the powers it would unleash can be done through executive order.
Last month, Biden moved to protect access to medication and make legal representation available to women who travel out of state for an abortion. The Biden administration also warned pharmacists they are at risk of violating federal civil rights laws if they deny filling prescriptions to medications that could be used for abortions.
Reach Rebecca Morin at Twitter @RebeccaMorin_