President Biden will issue an executive order to secure access to reproductive and other health services, building on actions taken by the Biden-Harris administration to protect access to reproductive health services and defend women’s fundamental rights. The President opens the first meeting of the Vice Presidents of the Task Force on Reproductive Healthcare Access. At the meeting, the cabinet will discuss their progress and the way forward to address the women’s health crisis following the Supreme Court decision Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.
IMPLEMENTING REGULATION TO SECURE ACCESS TO REPRODUCTIVE AND OTHER HEALTH SERVICES
Through today’s Executive Order, the President will announce actions to:
- Support patients who travel abroad for medical care. The executive order directs the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to consider measures to improve access to reproductive health services, including through Medicaid for patients traveling abroad for reproductive health services. This policy is consistent with clear statements by the President and Attorney General on the government’s obligation to defend the fundamental right to travel across state lines to seek reproductive health care in states where such services remain legal.
- Ensure healthcare providers comply with federal non-discrimination law. The Executive Order directs the Secretary of HHS to review all appropriate measures to ensure healthcare providers comply with federal anti-discrimination laws so that women receive prompt medical care. Those measures could include providing technical assistance to healthcare providers who are confused or unsure about their obligations following the Supreme Court decision Dobbs; convening providers to provide information about their obligations and the possible consequences of non-compliance; and issue additional guidance or take other appropriate action in response to complaints or reports of non-compliance with federal non-discrimination laws.
- Promote research and data collection on maternal health outcomes. To accurately measure the impact of decreasing access to reproductive health services on women’s health, the Executive Order directs the Secretary of HHS to evaluate and assign the research, data collection, and data analysis efforts of the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease improve control and prevention of maternal health and other health outcomes.
INTER-AGENCY TASK FORCE ON ACCESS TO REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH CARE
The President will sign the executive order at the first meeting of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Access to Reproductive Health Care. After the President signs the executive order, the heads of cabinet will report on progress made in implementing the President’s Executive Order dated July 8, 2022 to protect access to reproductive health services and related actions to defend reproductive rights .
Established by executive order, the Task Force on Reproductive Healthcare Access is co-led by Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra and White House Gender Policy Council director Jennifer Klein. The task force coordinates and advances efforts across the federal government to protect access to reproductive health services and defend reproductive rights.
Offices throughout the White House — including the Office of the Vice President, Office of the White House, Council on Home Affairs, National Economic Council, National Security Council, Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, and Office of Science and Technology Policy — serve alongside the following federal agencies also in the task force:
- Department of Health and Human Services
- Department of Defense
- Ministry of Education
- Department of Homeland Security
- Ministry of Justice
- work department
- department of the Ministry of Finance
- Ministry of Transport
- Veterans Affairs Department
- Federal Communications Commission
- Federal Trade Commission
- Office of Administration and Budget
- Personnel Management Office
TODAY’S ANNOUNCEMENTS BUILD ON ADMINISTRATION’S MEASURES TO PROTECT ACCESS TO REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH CARE
Today’s announcements build on actions already taken by the Biden-Harris administration to protect access to health care, including abortion and contraception, following the Supreme Court decision Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.
President Biden continues to urge Congress to incorporate abortion rights into federal law, and has done so said He would support changing the filibuster rules to codify them Roe v. calf into the law. The White House has also issued Statements of Administration Policy in support of HR 8296 – Women’s Health Protection Act of 2022 and HR 8297 – Ensuring Access to Abortion Act of 2022.
The administration has also taken immediate action to:
- Protecting access to reproductive health services: The President issued an executive order setting out measures to protect access to reproductive health services, including abortion and contraception; protecting patients’ privacy and their access to accurate information; promoting patient, provider and clinic safety; and coordinate the implementation of federal efforts.
- Defending the right to travel: On 6/24/22 President Biden reiterated the Attorney General’s statement that women must be free to travel safely to another state to receive the care they need. President Biden committed his administration to defending “this fundamental right.” Today’s response builds on that commitment and directs HHS to review grants for women traveling abroad to seek medical care.
- Protect emergency medical care: The DOJ filed a lawsuit to overturn the Idaho ban on abortion, which makes abortion a crime even when it is necessary to avoid serious risks to the health of pregnant patients. The lawsuit alleges that Idaho law conflicts with, and therefore preempts, the Emergency Medical Treatment Active Labor Act (EMTALA), which requires providers to offer stabilizing treatments, including abortion services when needed, in certain emergency situations. This litigation follows guidance issued by HHS confirming the requirements of EMTALA and a letter from Secretary Becerra to providers clarifying that federal laws preempt state laws restricting access to abortions in emergency situations.
- Strengthening non-discrimination in healthcare. HHS announced a proposed rule to strengthen nondiscrimination in healthcare. The proposed rule implements Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act and reaffirms protections consistent with President Biden’s executive orders on non-discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
- Issuing guidelines for retail pharmacies. HHS has issued guidance to approximately 60,000 retail pharmacies across the United States to remind them of their obligations under federal civil rights laws to ensure access to comprehensive reproductive health services. The guidelines clarify that, as recipients of federal grants, pharmacies are prohibited by law from discriminating in their programs and activities on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age and disability. This includes the supply of medicines; determinations regarding the suitability of a prescribed drug for a patient; and advise patients about medicines and how to take them.
- Take action against the illegal use and disclosure of sensitive data. The Federal Trade Commission is committed to fully enforcing the law against the illegal use and disclosure of highly sensitive information, including location and health information, contained in fertility and period tracking data. The FTC has urged companies to consider that sensitive data is protected by numerous state and federal laws, claims that data is “anonymous” are often misleading, and the FTC has a track record of fighting companies that misuse consumer data.
- Protect patient privacy under HIPAA. HHS has issued guidance to address how the HIPAA privacy rule protects the privacy of individuals’ protected health information, including information related to reproductive health care. The guidelines help ensure that physicians and other medical providers and health insurers know that, with few exceptions, they are not required – and in many cases are not authorized – to disclose patients’ private information, including to law enforcement authorities. HHS has also released a guide for consumers explaining how to ensure they are protecting their personal information on mobile apps.
- Request information on data protection from mobile phone providers. The chair of the Federal Communications Commission wrote to the 15 largest wireless carriers asking for information about their data retention and privacy policies and general practices, in line with the President’s commitment to protecting Americans’ privacy.
- Start a DOJ Task Force on Reproductive Rights: The DOJ announced a Reproductive Rights Task Force that will monitor and evaluate state and local actions that violate federal protections related to the provision or performance of reproductive care that affect women’s ability to obtain reproductive care, where legal and interfere with the ability of individuals to inform and consult one another about the reproductive care that is available in other states, prohibit medical abortions, or impose criminal or civil liability on federal employees who provide legal reproductive health services.
- Hire lawyers to defend reproductive rights. The Justice Department and White House Office on Friday, July 29 called together more than 200 attorneys and attorneys from private firms, bar associations, legal aid organizations, reproductive rights groups and law schools across the country for the first convocation of pro-bono attorneys, how required in the Executive Order. The convening ended with a call to action from the Second Gentleman, urging companies to devote at least 500 hours to defending reproductive rights and justice.
- Provide access to accurate information and legal resources. HHS launched ReproductiveRights.gov, a website about people’s right to access reproductive health care, including birth control, abortion services, other preventive health services, and health insurance coverage. The DOJ also launched justice.gov/reproductive-rights, a Website providing a centralized online resource of the work of the Department of Protecting Access to Reproductive Health Services.