NEWS: What President Biden's executive order on abortion does not address

Repro Health Watch

July 14, 2022 | Abortion, Reproductive Rights

 

What President Biden’s executive order on abortion does not address

The Hill, July 8, 2022

"President Biden attempted to preserve abortion access on Friday through executive action but stopped short of restoring full access to the procedure or preventing states from enacting their own restrictions or bans. The executive order Biden signed empowers Health and Human Services (HHS) in a variety of ways, including the authority to protect and expand access to medication abortion — something the Department of Justice also warned states of, saying they cannot ban mifepristone, a drug used to aid in abortion, as it is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Biden’s executive order also ensures that people suffering medical emergencies while pregnant, like those experiencing a miscarriage or ectopic pregnancies, cannot be denied care — potentially allowing them to receive medically necessary abortions. HHS will also be allowed to expand access to reproductive health services — namely, access to emergency contraception and intrauterine devices (IUD). The executive order also taps into the Attorney General’s office and will organize private pro bono attorneys to help provide legal representation for patients, providers and third parties that lawfully seek reproductive health care services — like abortion. The executive order does not stop states from limiting abortion access…Abortion access was not declared a public health emergency…Abortions still cannot be done on federal land…Abortion advocates want more action."

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Democratic Cities in Republican States Seek Ways Around Abortion

The Washington Post, July 13, 2022

"Democratic-controlled cities within Republican states have launched improvisational efforts to preserve abortion services, even as officials acknowledge they will probably fall short of protecting doctors and patients sufficiently to serve as a substitute for a constitutional right to the procedure. The moves stem from the Supreme Court’s decision last month that invalidated a federal right to abortion, meaning that states could decide whether to allow it. Last week, the city council here passed a resolution instructing the police department not to pursue cases against abortion providers or patients. Dozens of big-city prosecutors, mostly in the South and Midwest, have said they will not file charges against medical workers who conduct abortions or their patients. Taken together, the steps do not amount to an affirmative right, but they could make the penalties for abortion more hypothetical than Republicans running the prosecutors’ states would prefer as they invoke bans on the procedure. 'We cannot ease up, we must continue to fight, because we all know what is truly at stake,' said New Orleans City Council member Helena Moreno, arguing for the resolution last week. 'We’re a blue dot here, a city that is fighting for its people, for all of its people.' The movement is spreading, even as its chief proponents acknowledge limits to what they can accomplish. Proscutors in Charlotte, Atlanta and Indianapolis have pledged not to use public resources to pursue abortion providers. While New Orleans is among the first to direct police not to investigate abortion cases, several others are likely to follow in the coming weeks. Even as Democratic cities take such steps, though, abortion bans are going into effect in states where restrictions have been held up in courts since the Supreme Court’s ruling overturned the right granted in the Roe v. Wade case decades ago. "

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States Move to Protect Abortion From Prosecutions Elsewhere

The Guardian, July 12, 2022

"As America faces the prospect of losing abortion rights in several dozen states some major companies have publicly announced plans to cover expenses for employees to get abortions in other states. But many other US employers have not made such offers and workers and unions are also pointing to serious gaps in those that have made abortion services commitments, saying they will not cover all workers. This means that the impact of the US supreme court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade and end federal abortion rights will probably be even more pronounced. In the US more than 156 million Americans rely on health insurance coverage sponsored by their employers. Among the corporations to announce help with abortion service for employees are Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, JP Morgan, Chobani, Starbucks, Yelp, Levi’s, Disney, Macy’s, H&M, Nordstrom, Nike, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Reddit, Tesla, Uber, Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Apple and others. But there are often serious limitations in these benefits, such as Starbucks suggesting they will not provide this benefit to unionized employees and only for employees who can afford or are eligible to be enrolled in their healthcare plan. Many of the corporations to announce these benefits have also donated to Republican elected officials or groups who are legislating abortion bans and restrictions. Some of the largest employers in the US, particularly ones that pay low wages, including fast-food corporations such as McDonald’s, and the largest employer in the US, Walmart, have not announced these benefits. The majority of US employers, 60% according to a May 2022 survey conducted by the consultancy group Gartner, do not plan to make any changes in the wake of the Dobbs decision. 'It is not a direct solution to having these rights being codified at the state or federal level.'"

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House, Senate Panels Examine Impact of State Abortion Restrictions After Roe Reversal

NBC News, July 13, 2022

"House and Senate committees heard testimony Wednesday from state officials, abortion rights advocates and legal and medical experts about the impact the Supreme Court's reversal of Roe v. Wade has had in states that have imposed limits on abortion. At the hearings, the members of the panels heard about abortion providers worried about breaking state laws restricting abortions and concerns over access, while Republicans emphasized that the Supreme Court's ruling simply handed the issue back to state legislatures. Democrats warned that the GOP did not intend to stop there. 'Today’s hearing is especially important because Republicans are not going to stop with Dobbs,' House Oversight Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., said in her opening statement. 'They are openly planning to impose a national ban on abortion. The damage that would cause is inconceivable.' 'As we hear about the impact of the loss of abortion rights today, I would like to ask those watching our hearing a simple question: Is this the country we want for our children?' Maloney continued. 'Do we want a country where our children have fewer rights than we did? Or do we want to live in a country that respects and trusts women to make the best choices for themselves and their families? The answer is clear. Americans overwhelmingly support the right to abortion.' The hearings focused on the nearly half of states where abortion has been or may soon be banned and actions proposed by Democrats to protect and expand the right to an abortion. Among those testifying before the House panel were Democratic Michigan state Sen. Mallory McMorrow, Democratic Georgia House Rep. Renitta Shannon, National Women’s Law Center President Fatima Goss Graves, and Alliance Defending Freedom senior counsel Erin Hawley, the wife of Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo."

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Abortion Providers are Trying to Open New Clinics As Close As Possible to States with Bans

The 19th, July 11, 2022

"Most new clinics are opening in states where abortion access is expected to stay protected in the long term. Whole Woman’s Health is also considering opening a clinic in North Carolina — a purple state whose Democratic governor has blocked restrictions thus far — but hasn’t made any commitments just yet. The relief won’t be immediate, either, as many of these clinics won’t open for months. Their owners still need to find a site that can serve as a medical clinic, raise money to purchase and renovate buildings, and hire staff. Some employees may come from now-shuttered clinics, but not all may be willing to relocate to a new state. And those opening clinics in smaller towns will have to arrange to fly in physicians to provide care, a potentially expensive proposition. While some clinics already have the money secured to finance such expansions, others are now trying to raise the cash. 'All of those [planned expansions] depend on the ability to maintain current staff that are experts in abortion care provision and recruit new staff,' Tocce said. Red River Women’s Clinic, which will move from Fargo to Moorehead, Minnesota, is seeking $1 million in donations to fund its move, which will involve renovating a new facility. Whole Woman’s Health is seeking $750,000. Hagstrom Miller has also argued that the Biden administration should offer some kind of financial support to clinics that are being forced to relocate. But it’s not clear if the administration could in fact provide money to help clinics move, noted Rachel Rebouché, interim dean at the Temple University School of Law and an expert in abortion-related law. Such efforts could potentially run afoul of the Hyde Amendment, a budgetary provision that prohibits using federal funds to pay for abortions. The government could perhaps offer to lease land to clinics at a lower price, Rebouché said, but that discount could be construed as financial support. It’s hard to say for sure, though."

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