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Biden executive order urges HHS to consider Medicaid funds for abortion travel

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U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas listens as U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks virtually during the first meeting of the interagency Task Force on Reproductive Healthcare Access in the Indian Treaty Room of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, next to the White House, in Washington, DC, on August 3, 2022. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP) (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images) |

Pro-life activists argue that President Joe Biden's executive order calling for potentially using government funds to help women travel out of state to receive an abortion could force American taxpayers to fund abortions in violation of federal law.  

On Wednesday, Biden issued an executive order instructing the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to "consider actions to advance access to reproductive healthcare services, including, to the extent permitted by Federal law, through Medicaid for patients traveling across State lines for medical care."

The order follows Biden's July 8 executive order to "protect and expand access to abortion" after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion nationwide. Following the June 24 decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization that overturned Roe, several states have implemented bans on the procedure.

Biden described the order as an extension of "the policy of my administration to support women's access to reproductive healthcare services, including their ability to travel to seek abortion care in States where it is legal."

He said because of Dobbs, "access to reproductive healthcare services is now threatened for millions of Americans, and especially for those who live in States that are banning or severely restricting abortion care."

In a statement, the national anti-abortion grassroots activist group Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America claimed the order is an effort to "force taxpayers to fund abortion on demand until birth in Democrat-led states with no limits on abortion, including through Medicaid, in violation of the Hyde Amendment."

The Hyde Amendment, a longstanding provision attached to government funding bills, prevents the use of federal taxpayer dollars to fund abortions.

While Democrats vowed to gut the Hyde Amendment if they completely controlled the federal government following the 2020 election, their efforts haven't succeeded.

The Hyde Amendment was included in the fiscal year 2022 appropriations bill for the Labor, Health and Human Services Education, and Related Agencies, which Biden signed into law earlier this year.

Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, said the executive order "illegally" forces "the taxpayers to fund" abortion. She claims the Biden administration is using "the full weight of the federal government to impose abortion on demand up to the moment of birth." 

The lobbying arm of America's largest abortion provider, Planned Parenthood Action, called the executive order "a critical step in supporting abortion access and people in need of care."

Rep. Beth Van Duyne, R-Texas, said in an interview with Fox News that Biden is "trampling all over the Supreme Court decision."

"You had justices deciding this was not a constitutionally provided right and that the states have an opportunity to allow their constituents to debate it, to hear from them and to do it publicly," Van Duyne said. "That is exactly what you are seeing. The vote they had in Kansas shows that. It was the politicians, according to Biden, he doesn't want to have a say. It was the politicians in the state legislature in Kansas that allowed its constituents to voice their opinion." 

The order also calls on HHS to "evaluate the adequacy of research, data collection, and data analysis and interpretation efforts at the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and other relevant HHS components in accurately measuring the effect of access to reproductive healthcare on maternal health outcomes and other health outcomes."

"Let's get this straight… for months, pro-lifers have been accused of wanting to collect data about women seeking abortions," the pro-life advocacy group Students for Life tweeted. "[B]ut when Biden signs an Executive Order forcing this, suddenly it's a good thing?"

Biden's latest executive order follows unsuccessful attempts by the U.S. Congress to pass the Women's Health Protection Act, which would codify a right to abortion into federal law and limit the ability of states to enact pro-life laws. The measure passed the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives multiple times, most recently on July 15, three weeks after the Dobbs decision.

However, the bill has faced procedural hurdles in the U.S. Senate. Most legislation requires 60 votes to pass the Senate, and the body is currently divided evenly between Democrats and Republicans.

On May 11, the Senate voted 51-49 against invoking cloture on the Women's Health Protection Act, enabling debate on the legislation. The Senate previously rejected the bill in a 48-46 vote on Feb. 28.

On Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against Idaho over its near-total ban on abortion slated to take effect on Aug. 25. The administration contends that the law violates the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act of 1986.

Biden addressed the 1986 legislation in his executive order Wednesday, noting that HHS had informed hospitals of their obligation under the law "to provide to patients presenting at an emergency department with an emergency medical condition stabilizing care, including an abortion, if that care is necessary to stabilize their emergency medical condition."

While the Biden administration works to provide taxpayer funds for women to travel to another state for an abortion, those in Hollywood want their studios to bankroll such travel for their employees.

Last week, more than 400 women who work as "show creators, showrunners and head writers" for "every network and streaming platform in the industry today" sent a letter to major movie production companies sharing their "grave concerns about the lack of specific production protocols in place to protect those at work for [the studios] in anti-abortion states."

The women demand the implementation of "published policies and procedures to provide an abortion travel subsidy for employees of your productions including specific information on how the employee's medical privacy will be safeguarded." Signatories include singer Sara Bareilles, "Grey's Anatomy" creator Shonda Rhimes and comedians Whitney Cummings, Chelsea Handler and Amy Schumer.

This week, more than 600 prominent males in the entertainment industry crafted a letter to Disney, Netflix, Warner Bros., Discovery, Paramount, Apple, NBC Universal, Amazon, Lionsgate and AMC indicating that they stood "in solidarity with our female, trans & non-binary showrunner colleagues in demanding a coordinated and timely response from our employers regarding the imminent workplace-safety crisis created by the overturning of Roe v. Wade."

Signatories included "Family Guy" creator Seth MacFarlane, actors Josh Gad, Donald Glover and Jason Sudeikis.

Several private companies have already enacted policies to fund out-of-state travel for their employees seeking abortions, including Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Meta, Microsoft, Apple, Conde Nast, Paramount, Tesla, Netflix, Lyft, Uber, PayPal, Reddit, Comcast, Johnson & Johnson, Yelp, Airbnb, Amazon, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, Dick's Sporting Goods and the Walt Disney Company.

Ryan Foley is a reporter for The Christian Post. He can be reached at: ryan.foley@christianpost.com

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