December 8, 2023

President Joe Biden will sign an executive order on Wednesday aimed in part at making it easier for women seeking abortions to travel between states to access the procedure.

More specifically, one of the directives Biden will issue would allow states that have not outlawed abortion to apply for specific Medicaid waivers that would, in effect, help them treat women who have traveled out of state.

The order will also call on health care providers to comply with federal nondiscrimination laws and streamline the collection of basic maternal health data and information at the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The details were outlined by senior administration officials who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the executive order ahead of an official announcement.

Biden, who remains in isolation at the White House residence after recovering from a case of COVID-19, will sign the executive order as he helps create a federal task force on access to reproductive care, led by Vice President Kamala Harris, officials said.

But the new order falls short of what many Democratic lawmakers and abortion advocacy groups have asked of the Biden administration since the Supreme Court overturned the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. One of the key issues was Biden declaring a public health emergency over abortion, which White House officials said would do little to free up federal resources or trigger new legal authorities.

Wednesday’s order is the latest in a series of executive actions by the Biden administration since the constitutional right to abortion was struck down in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization in June.

Separately, on Tuesday, the Justice Department sued Idaho over its statute criminalizing abortion, with Attorney General Merrick Garland arguing it violates federal law.

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