President Joe Biden on Friday will sign an executive order strengthening protections for abortion rights – a move that will come two weeks after Supreme Court overruled by Roe v. Wade.

The order would provide access to abortion and emergency contraception, add additional patient privacy protections, expand legal options, and offer protections for those who cross state lines to obtain abortion services.

Details from the executive order released by the White House:

PROTECTING ACCESS TO REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH SERVICES

The President directed the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to take the following actions and report to him within 30 days on efforts to:

• Protect access to medical abortion. HHS will take additional steps to protect and expand access to abortion, including access to medications that the FDA approved as safe and effective more than twenty years ago. These actions will build on steps the HHS secretary has already taken at the direction of the president after the decision to make medical abortion as accessible as possible.

• Provide emergency medical care. HHS will take steps to ensure that all patients – including pregnant women and survivors of pregnancy – have access to the full emergency medical care rights and protections provided under the law, including by reviewing updates to current guidelines clarifying physician responsibilities and protections under the Emergency Medical Care and Labor Act (EMTALA).

• Protect access to contraception. HHS will take additional steps to expand access to the full range of reproductive health services, including family planning services and providers, such as access to emergency contraception and long-acting reversible contraception, such as intrauterine devices (IUDs). In all fifty states and the District of Columbia, the Affordable Care Act guarantees coverage of women’s preventive services, including free contraception and contraception counseling, for individuals and dependents. The Secretary of HHS has already directed the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to take all legal steps to ensure patient access to family planning care and to protect family planning providers.

• The beginning of informative and educational activities. HHS will increase outreach and education efforts regarding access to reproductive health services, including abortion, to ensure Americans have access to reliable and accurate information about their rights and access to health care.

• Call volunteer lawyers. The Attorney General and the White House Council will bring together private pro bono attorneys, bar associations, and community organizations to encourage robust legal representation for patients, providers, and third parties who lawfully seek or offer reproductive health services nationwide. Such representation may include protecting the right to travel out of state for medical care. Immediately following the Supreme Court’s decision, the president announced his administration’s position that Americans should remain free to travel safely to another state to get the help they need, as the attorney general made clear in a statement, and his commitment to combating any attack from on the part of a state or local official who tries to prevent women from exercising this right.

PROTECTION OF PATIENT CONFIDENTIALITY AND ACCESS TO ACCURATE INFORMATION

The president’s executive order takes additional steps to protect patient privacy, including by addressing the transfer and sale of sensitive health-related data, combating digital surveillance related to reproductive health services, and protecting people seeking health care in field of reproductive health, from inaccurate information, fraudulent schemes, or deceptive practices. Order:

• Protect consumers from privacy breaches, fraud and deception. The president asked the chairman of the Federal Trade Commission to consider the possibility of taking measures to protect the privacy of consumers when receiving information and providing services for the protection of reproductive health. The President also directed the HHS Secretary, in consultation with the Attorney General and the FTC Chair, to consider options for eliminating deceptive or fraudulent practices, including online, and protecting access to accurate information.

• Protection of confidential health information. HHS will consider additional measures, including under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), to better protect sensitive information related to reproductive health. The HHS Secretary has already directed the HHS Office for Civil Rights to take the first steps to ensure patient privacy and nondiscrimination for patients and providers who provide reproductive health services, including by:

o Issuing new guidance regarding how the HIPAA Privacy Rule protects the privacy of individuals’ protected health information, including reproductive health information. The guidance helps ensure that doctors and other health care providers and health plans know that, with certain exceptions, they are not required, and in many cases are not permitted, to disclose private patient information, including to law enforcement.

o Issuing guidance for consumers on what they can do to ensure they protect their personal data in mobile applications.

ENSURING SAFETY AND SECURITY

The executive order addresses the increased risk associated with seeking and providing reproductive health care and provides:

• Protection of patients, providers and clinics. The Administration will ensure the safety of patients, providers, and third parties, and protect the safety of other entities that provide, distribute, or provide reproductive health care services. That fee includes efforts to protect mobile clinics that have been deployed at borders to offer care to out-of-state patients.

COORDINATION OF FORCES FOR IMPLEMENTATION

To ensure that the federal government takes a swift and coordinated approach to addressing reproductive rights and protecting access to reproductive health care, the President’s executive order:

• Create an interagency task force. The President directed HHS and the White House Gender Policy Council to establish and lead an interagency task force on access to reproductive health, responsible for coordinating federal interagency policy and program development. This task force will also include the Attorney General. In addition, the Attorney General will provide technical assistance to states that provide legal protection to out-of-state patients and to providers that offer legal reproductive health care.

EXECUTIVE ORDER BUILDS ON ADMINISTRATION ACTIONS TO PROTECT ACCESS TO REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH

In addition to the actions announced today, the Biden-Harris administration has taken the following steps to protect access to reproductive health care and protect reproductive rights in response to the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision. On the day of the decision, the president strongly condemned the decision as an affront to women’s basic rights and the right to choose. In addition to the actions mentioned above, the Biden-Harris administration:

• Provider and clinic support. The HHS Secretary directed all HHS agencies to ensure that all HHS-funded providers and clinics have adequate training and resources to meet family planning needs, and announced nearly $3 million in new funding to increase training and technical assistance for the nationwide network Title X family planning providers.

• Facilitating access to accurate information. On the day of the Supreme Court’s decision, HHS launched ReproductiveRights.gov, which provides timely and accurate information about reproductive rights and access to reproductive health care. This includes information for patients and providers about their rights and awareness of and access to family planning services, as well as guidance on how to file a patient privacy or nondiscrimination complaint with the Office for Civil Rights.

• Providing leave to federal employees traveling for medical care. The Office of Personnel Management has issued guidance confirming that paid sick leave may be taken to cover absences during travel for reproductive health care.

• Protecting access to reproductive health care services for military personnel, DoD civilians, and military families. The Department of Defense (DoD) has issued a memo to forces, Department of Defense civilians and military families on ensuring access to essential health care services for women. The memo reiterates that the Department will continue to provide seamless access to reproductive health care for military and civilian patients as authorized by federal law. Military providers will continue to fulfill their duty of care to service members, military dependents, and civilian personnel who require termination of pregnancy in cases of rape, incest, or to protect the life of the mother.

– White House facts

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