President Joe Biden Signs Second Executive Order Protecting Access to Abortion

The executive abortion aims at making it easier for patients to travel across state lines to receive abortion services

President Joe Biden has signed his second executive order to protect access to reproductive healthcare services in response to the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.

The executive order, which Biden signed Wednesday during the inaugural meeting of the administration's recently established Task Force on Reproductive Healthcare Access, is aimed at making it easier for patients to travel across state lines to receive abortion services.

The order directs the Department of Health and Human Services to "consider action to advance access to reproductive healthcare services," including allowing the use of Medicaid funds for patients who travel out-of-state for the procedure. If HHS enacts that plan, states could apply for Medicaid waivers when they provide abortions to people from out of state.

It also calls on the HHS to ensure health care providers comply with federal non-discrimination laws when offering services.

This comes after a bill, the Ensuring Women's Right to Reproductive Freedom Act, to protect a patient's right to travel across state lines for abortion services, was blocked by the Republican-led Senate last month after passing the House of Representatives.

Joe Biden
Joe Biden. Kevin Dietsch/Getty

Executive orders are signed directives from the president, which don't require Congressional approval, that manage operations of the federal government.

Though Congress can't pass laws to overturn an executive order, it can pass legislation that makes it difficult, or even impossible, to carry out the order, for example by removing funding. An executive order can be revoked by the president who issued it and a president has the ability to revoke executive orders issued by a predecessor.

Abortion-rights activists holding signs gather in front of the Supreme Court building following the announcement to the Dobbs v Jackson Women's Health Organization ruling in Washington D.C.
Probal Rashid/LightRocket via Getty Images

Biden has stated repeatedly that he doesn't have the authority as president to restore the right to abortion himself.

"The only way we can secure a woman's right to choose and the balance that existed is for Congress to restore the protections of Roe v. Wade as federal law," he previously explained. "No executive action from the president can do that."

Biden signed his first executive order related to abortion access in early July.

The order vowed to "ensure the safety of patients, providers, and third parties" who have abortions or provide abortion services.

Additionally, the order called on the HHS to submit a report detailing steps to take that can protect medication abortion, expand access to emergency contraceptives, and increase education about reproductive healthcare services.

At the time, Biden urged the American people to assert their political power by voting for their abortion rights in the upcoming November elections, stressing that political change is needed in order restore the rights lost by the overturn of Roe.

"I'm asking the Justice Department that, much like they did in the Civil Rights era, to do everything in their power to protect these women seeking to invoke their rights," Biden said.

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