Today, July 8, 2022, President Biden signed Executive Order on Protecting Access to Reproductive Healthcare Services, wherein:
- The President requested that the Secretary of Health and Human Services (“HHS”) submit a report to him within 30 days to identify actions/steps to: (i) protect access to FDA approved medication abortions; (ii) ensure emergency care under the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (“EMTALA”) for pregnant women and women experiencing pregnancy loss; (iii) protect access to contraception, including women’s preventive services, family planning, free birth control and contraceptive counseling; and (iv) increase outreach and public education regarding access to reproductive healthcare services.
- The President requested the Attorney General and the Counsel to the President to convene volunteer lawyers, bar associations, and public interest organizations to encourage lawyers to provide legal representation to patients, providers and third parties lawfully seeking or offering reproductive health services.
- The President encouraged the Chair of the Federal Trade Commission to consider steps to protect the consumer’s privacy when seeking information regarding reproductive healthcare services, including, in consultation with the Attorney General and Secretary of HHS, options to address deceptive or fraudulent practices (including online), and to protect access to accurate information.
- The President directed the Secretary of HHS and the Office of Civil Rights, in consultation with the Attorney General and Chair of the FTC, to take steps to ensure patient privacy and nondiscrimination of patients and providers, including issuing new guidance for how HIPAA protects the privacy of individual’s protected health information (for example, educating providers so that they know that with limited exceptions, they are not required or permitted to disclose protected health information, including to law enforcement, and educating consumers on how best to protect their health privacy).
The Executive Order also outlines measures:
- Ensuring the safety of patients, providers, and third parties seeking and/or providing reproductive health services via actions taken by the Attorney General and Secretary of Homeland Security.
- Directing HHS and the White House Gender Policy Council to lead an Interagency Task Force on Reproductive Healthcare Access, along with heads of other agencies they determine as well as the Attorney General, to address barriers to seeking and providing reproductive healthcare services.
- Directing the Attorney General to provide technical assistance to states seeking to afford legal protection to out-of-state patients and providers providing legal reproductive healthcare.
Finally, the Biden Administration notes that this EO builds on prior Administration actions to protect access to reproductive healthcare, including:
- HHS providing $3 million in new funding to bolster training and technical assistance for the nationwide network of Title X planning providers.
- Launching https://reproductiverights.gov/ to provide timely and accurate information about reproductive rights and access to reproductive health services;
- Providing leave for Federal Workers traveling for reproductive healthcare. https://www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/pay-leave/leave-administration/fact-sheets/sick-leave-faqs.pdf
- Protecting access to reproductive healthcare services for Service Members, DoD Civilians and Military Families, including providing pregnancy termination in the cases of rape, incest or to protect the life of the mother.