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White House says Biden’s new abortion order will ‘follow the law’

The White House defended President Joe Biden’s new executive order making it easier for women on Medicaid to travel across state lines to have an abortion, saying it would “follow the law.”

But it’s unclear how the Hyde amendment — a long-standing policy banning the use of federal funds for abortions — would disrupt the order.

The president and other government officials on Wednesday provided few details about how the order would work or a timeline for its implementation.

But Karine Jean Pierre, White House press secretary, said it would follow the law.

“This EO does not – will not – violate the Hyde Amendment. It’s the law, and we’re following the law here,” she said during her daily press conference.

She also rejected the Supreme Court’s June decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, calling it “unconstitutional.”

“It was an unconstitutional act on their part — a right that has existed for nearly 50 years, a right that women had to make a decision about their bodies and how they want to start their families,” she said.

White House press secretary Karine Jean Pierre said new executive order follows law;  “This EO does not - will not - violate the Hyde Amendment.  It's the law, and we follow the law here,

White House press secretary Karine Jean Pierre said new executive order follows law; “This EO does not – will not – violate the Hyde Amendment. It’s the law, and we follow the law here,” she said during her daily press conference

President Joe Biden signed a new executive order on Wednesday making it easier for women on Medicaid to travel across state lines to have an abortion

President Joe Biden signed a new executive order on Wednesday making it easier for women on Medicaid to travel across state lines to have an abortion

Biden’s executive order, which he signed Wednesday, instructs Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra to consider actions that would expand access for individuals seeking reproductive health care, including expanding Medicaid to cover travel costs.

But the Hyde amendment prohibits federal money from being spent on abortion, except in cases of rape, incest, and to save the pregnant woman’s life.

It is not a permanent law, but was added as a temporary “runner” to the Act on Congressional Appropriations for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). It must be renewed annually by Congress.

And it affects the funding of abortions under Medicaid, a state and federal health program for low-income people.

Medicaid is jointly funded by states and the federal government, so states can choose to pay for abortions under Medicaid in other cases, but must use their own revenue — not federal funds.

There are only 16 states that use their own money to provide abortion coverage under Medicaid. In 34 states, people covered by Medicaid have extremely limited coverage for abortion.

Because the Hyde amendment must be included in the HHS budget annually, Congress will have to include it during the annual budget process this fall.

For example, if the Hyde Amendment had been lifted in 2019, it could have provided federal support for abortion coverage for 13.9 million women of reproductive age enrolled in Medicaid, as well as millions of others in similarly restricted federal programs, the United States. Kaiser Family Foundation estimated.

Jean-Pierre referred answers to questions about how the new executive order would work — and how the Hyde amendment would apply — to the Department of Health and Human Services.

“HHS will clearly lead this effort and will have more details to share,” she said.

“We’ll leave it up to HHS to come up with details about how they’re going to work with states — if a state asks for a waiver — and what that’s going to look like,” she noted. “This is in their hands. They’re going to come up with the details – again, the details of how this is going to work.”

Abortion protesters protest outside the Indiana Statehouse last week - abortion protests have sprung up across the country

Abortion protesters protest outside the Indiana Statehouse last week – abortion protests have sprung up across the country

Anti-abortion rights protesters protest in Indianapolis, Indiana - President Biden used executive orders to protect abortion rights, but could be challenged in court

Anti-abortion rights protesters protest in Indianapolis, Indiana – President Biden used executive orders to protect abortion rights, but could be challenged in court

This is the second executive order Biden has signed on reproductive rights. Last month, the president signed an executive order guaranteeing access to abortion medications and emergency contraception.

Both of his orders can be challenged in court.

“The president has been very clear that he will do everything he can. It doesn’t end here’, says Jean-Pierre. ‘But he can’t be the only one working on this, can he? That’s why we keep asking Congress to intervene.”

The Biden administration is also urging Congress to codify women’s right to abortion through federal law.

Democrats see abortion as a matter of gathering their foundations for the 2022 midterm elections, fearing Republicans may gain control of Congress.

Many activists were heartened by Tuesday’s election results in Kansas, where voters in the red state — by a margin of nearly 20 points — rejected a proposed amendment to the state constitution that would have added text saying it does not grant the right to abortion. .

President Biden has attacked extremist Republicans for wanting to ban abortion under all circumstances.

Speaking at a virtual event sponsored by the Democratic National Committee Wednesday night, the president vowed that he would “never, ever allow MAGA extremists in the Republican Party to issue a national ban on women’s right to choose in America, no matter the circumstances. , and that is what MAGA extremists are determined to do.”

“Let me tell you that the Supreme Court and the MAGA Republicans have no idea about the power of women in this country,” he said.

Polls show that a majority of Americans support abortion rights. A recent Pew poll found that 61% of American adults said abortion should be legal in all or most cases.

However, Biden’s new order falls short of what many Democratic lawmakers and abortion advocacy groups have asked for: that Biden declare a public health emergency on abortion.

White House officials argue this will do little to free up federal resources or activate new legal authorities.

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