President Joe Biden signed an executive order Wednesday directing the Department of Health and Human Services to consider using taxpayer dollars to fund out-of-state abortions.
What are the details?
The executive order directs Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra to “consider actions to advance access to reproductive healthcare services, including … through Medicaid for patients traveling across State lines for medical care.”
The White House said the EO aligns with Biden’s “commitment to defending the bedrock right to travel across state lines to seek reproductive healthcare in states where those services remain legal.'”
After the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, Biden condemned the high court and promised to fight for abortion rights.
“The court has made clear it will not protect the rights of women — period. Period,” Biden said, describing the decision as “terrible,” “extreme,” and “wrongheaded.”
Biden reiterated his sharp rhetoric on Wednesday, speaking from isolation inside the White House after repeatedly testing positive for COVID-19.
“I commit to the American people that we’re doing everything in our power to safeguard access to healthcare, including the right to choose that women had under Roe v. Wade, which was ripped away by this extreme court,” Biden said.
What about the Hyde Amendment?
While Biden wants HHS to “consider actions” to fund abortion through Medicaid, actually doing so would be prima facie illegal under the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits federal funds from paying for abortions.
The Guttmacher Institute explains:
Medicaid is a federal-state partnership. Under the Hyde Amendment, federal Medicaid funds cannot be used for abortion except in cases of rape, incest or life endangerment. All state Medicaid programs must cover abortions under these circumstances; states have the option to cover other abortions using their own funds.
To that end, more than a dozen states — Maine, Connecticut, Vermont, New York, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Maryland, Illinois, Minnesota, Montana, New Mexico, Oregon, California, Washington, Alaska, and Hawaii — use their own funds to pay for abortion services through Medicaid.
What did the WH say?
A reporter asked White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre on Wednesday why Biden wants taxpayers to “subsidize” abortion.
“Why does the president want to force pro-life Americans, including Catholics, of which he is one, to subsidize abortion?” reporter Owen Jensen asked.
“Federal law makes clear doctors must provide emergency medical care, including abortion services to subsidize women facing life-threatening conditions,” Jean-Pierre responded.
“We are working to ensure that pregnant women whose life and lives are in serious jeopardy receive the care that they need,” she added. “This is what it is. This is what we’re trying to do. This is what the president promised that he would do.”