Los Angeles Times
Biden signs executive order to protect travel for abortion
WASHINGTON — President Biden on Wednesday signed an executive order that lays the groundwork for Medicaid to help women seeking abortions to travel between states to obtain access to the procedure.
The details are still being worked out, and the administration faces a challenging legal landscape because it’s illegal to use federal funding to pay for abortions unless the woman’s life is in danger or the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest.
However, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said the Department of Health and Human Services would invite states where abortion remains legal to apply for permission to use Medicaid funds to “provide reproductive healthcare to women who live in states where abortion is banned.”
Crossing state lines to get abortions has become an increasingly important issue since the Supreme Court overturned Roe vs. Wade and opened the door for new restrictions on abortion at the state level.
The National Abortion Federation said Wednesday that it’s seen more women asking for help traveling to get the procedure in the month after the decision. The organization paid for 76 hotel rooms and booked 52 bus or plane trips, up from only a handful in the same time period last year.
Biden’s order also calls on healthcare providers to comply with federal nondiscrimination laws and streamline the collection of key data and information on maternal health at the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Biden described the court’s decision on abortion as a “healthcare crisis,” and he said he wants to make sure “every part of the federal government does its part at this critical moment where women’s health and lives are on the line.”
The new order falls short of what many Democratic lawmakers and abortion advocacy groups have demanded of the Biden administration. One chief ask has been for Biden to declare a public health emergency on abortion, which White House officials have said would do little to free up federal resources or activate new legal authorities.