Biden -- who will sign the order Wednesday, more than five weeks after the US Supreme Court eliminated the nationwide right to an abortion -- lauded the Kansas measure’s defeat.
“This vote makes clear what we know: The majority of Americans agree that women should have access to abortion and should have the right to make their own health care decisions,” he said in a statement.
The president reiterated his call for Congress to enshrine the right to abortion access into federal law. Biden has said repeatedly that options are limited without congressional action -- which is all but certain not to occur unless voters elect more lawmakers who support abortion rights.
Kansas, a state that former president
The order Biden will sign Wednesday will direct the secretary of Health and Human Services to consider actions to help patients travel outside their states for abortions using funds from Medicaid -- a move that conservatives will likely challenge in the courts.
The Hyde Amendment prevents the use of federal funds for abortions, except in cases of rape, incest or when a woman’s life is at risk. A senior administration official said the White House did not believe using Medicaid funds for travel violated the amendment.
The order also instructs HHS to ensure that health care providers comply with existing federal anti-discrimination laws so that pregnant people receive necessary medical care without delay. It asks HHS to enhance its collection of data on maternal health at the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The order will probably have little immediate effect. The travel provision will likely be held up by legal challenges, while the anti-discrimination provision must go through a regulatory process.
Biden has come under intense criticism over his response to the court’s ruling in late June that overruled the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision enshrining the right to an abortion.
Progressive lawmakers have been pressing him to do more,
The Justice Department filed its first post-Roe lawsuit on abortion rights this week, suing the state of Idaho over its law banning abortion after six weeks. DOJ contends that federal law requires doctors and hospitals to perform medically required abortions to preserve a pregnant person’s health.
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Kathleen Hunter, Meghashyam Mali
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