Connect with us

Europe

Biden’s efforts to protect abortion access hit roadblocks

News Agencies

Published

on

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Biden administration is still actively searching for ways to safeguard abortion access for millions of women, even as it bumps up against a complex web of strict new state laws enacted in the months after the Supreme Court stripped the constitutional right.

Looking to seize on momentum following a midterm election where voters widely rebuked tougher abortion restrictions, there’s a renewed push at the White House to find ways to help women in states that have virtually outlawed or limited the treatment, and to keep the issue top of mind for voters.

In reality, though, the administration is shackled by a ban on federal funding for most abortions, a conservative-leaning Supreme Court inclined to rule against abortion rights and a split Congress unwilling to pass legislation on the matter.

Meanwhile, frustration on the ground in the most abortion-restricted states is mounting.

Advertisement

“This is not going away anytime soon,” said Jen Klein of the Biden administration’s Gender Policy Council. “Tens of millions of Americans are living under bans of various sorts, many of them quite extreme, and even in states where abortion is legal, we’re all seeing the impact on providers and on systems being loaded by people who are coming across state lines.”

Since the U.S. Supreme Court decision in June, roughly half the states have some type of abortion restrictions in place, with at least 11 states essentially banning the procedure.

Administration officials are meeting Tuesday and Wednesday with state lawmakers ahead of their 2023 sessions, including in states with more extreme bans on the table, and will discuss safeguarding rights and helping women access care as top issues. The meetings follow sit-downs with roughly nine governors, attorneys general and Democratic state legislators from more than 30 states.

Advertisement

The administration, meanwhile, is implementing Biden’s executive orders signed in July and August that directed federal agencies to push back on abortion restrictions and protect women traveling out of their state to seek one, though some women’s rights advocates say it doesn’t go far enough.

And there are still other avenues left for the administration to explore, said Kathleen Sebelius, a former U.S. health and human services secretary.

Advertisement

HHS might look to wield its power around federal protections for health care providers, life-saving abortions, abortion pills and travel for women in abortion-restricted states, she said. During her tenure, for example, the agency did some policy maneuvering to expand rights for same-sex couples, including a requirement that any hospitals receiving federal funds allow their patients to select a same-sex partner as a visitor, years before gay marriage was legalized.

“It’s amazing how broad a lot of the agency’s authorities are and how much creative thinking can go on,” Sebelius said.

Already, the Justice Department has sued Idaho over its restrictive abortion policy and indicted at least 20 people who have been accused of obstructing access to abortion clinics. Attorney General Merrick Garland has said he would protect the right for women to travel between states for medical care.

Advertisement

Veterans and their beneficiaries are able to access abortion, even in states that have outlawed it, through the Department of Veteran Affairs in cases where the woman’s life or health is at risk or in cases of rape or incest. The Defense Department will cover leave and travel costs for troops seeking abortions if they are not available in their state.

The Federal Trade Commission has sued at least one data broker for selling information that tracks people at reproductive health care clinics, while the Federal Communication Commission reminded 15 mobile carriers of privacy laws in a recent letter.

Perhaps most consequentially, the Department of Health and Human Services told hospitals they “must” provide abortions if a mother’s life is at risk. The agency cited federal law, called the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act, or EMTALA, that requires medical facilities to provide treatment if a person may be in labor or faces an emergency health situation.

Advertisement

But “no executive action can replace a precedent of nearly 50 years,” Klein said. “The most important thing is to fight for national legislation.”

None is upcoming in the lame-duck session before Republicans take control of the House. And Biden is limited in what else he can do.

Indeed, the administration’s moves so far have made little difference in Ohio, said Kellie Copeland, the executive director at Pro-Choice Ohio. A law that would essentially ban abortion once fetal cardiac activity is detected is awaiting a court ruling. Currently, abortion is banned at 22 weeks, state Medicaid funds can’t be used for abortion and parental consent is required for a minor to receive care.

Advertisement

“I can say as an advocate in Ohio, no one is saying, ‘Oh wow, this has made a difference,’” Copeland said. “The impact has not been felt.”

Copeland’s organization is one of about 50 local advocacy groups and abortion clinics entrenched in states and cities that asked the president in an August letter to offer federal travel and childcare vouchers for people living in states where abortion is banned, introduce federal protections for mailing abortion pills, and gather hospital attorneys to reiterate that doctors must give abortions in life-saving situations.

Meanwhile, there’s chaos at hospitals located in the country’s most restrictive states, where doctors treating critically ill pregnant patients must weigh their medical recommendations against potential punishments like prison time. Reports of sick pregnant women turned away by doctors or facing unsafe delays in medical care are pouring in.

Advertisement

HHS is investigating at least one hospital in Missouri after officials there refused to let doctors perform an abortion on a woman during a medical emergency, but won’t say how many complaints it has received against providers or hospital system for failing to provide life-saving care.

In August, HHS also invited states to apply for Medicaid waivers that would unlock federal funds to pay for travel costs for women who live in states where abortion procedures have been severely restricted.

Not a single state has applied, although the agency said it is in talks with officials in some states about applications.

Advertisement

In Louisiana, where abortion is banned except in certain cases where a mother’s life is at stake, federal policies around travel are likely to have the most impact, said Michelle Erenberg of the New Orleans-based abortion rights advocacy group Lift Louisiana.

She’s not hopeful that other federal proposals will ease how women access abortion directly in the state.

“It’s a little frustrating,” Erenberg said. “Also, we understand there’s only so much the administration is going to be able to do when a state like Louisiana has decided to enact a near total ban on abortion care.”

Advertisement
Continue Reading
Advertisement

Advertisement

Breaking News

Editor Pick’s

Latest Entertainment

Entertainment34 mins ago

Priscilla Presley files to control Lisa Marie Presley’s estate despite Riley Keough being named trustee

Lisa Marie Presley, Priscilla Presley and Riley Keough pose after placing their handprints in cement at TCL Chinese theatre in...

Entertainment2 hours ago

Feminist Jane Fonda once ‘saw women as weak’

Jane Fonda is opening up about her cancer treatment. (Photo: REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni) Jane Fonda has been an outspoken feminist for...

Entertainment3 hours ago

‘A Thousand and One’ wins Sundance grand jury prize

“A Thousand and One,” a drama about an impoverished single mother and her son in New York City, won the...

Entertainment4 hours ago

T.J. Holmes and Amy Robach will depart ‘GMA3’ amid romance: sources

ABC is looking to cut ties with Amy Robach and T.J. Holmes amid their headline-making romance. (Photos: Getty Images) After...

Entertainment4 hours ago

‘Infinity Pool’ stars Mia Goth and Alexander Skarsgård on the bonkers X-rated scenes that shocked Sundance

Mia Goth takes aim in Brandon Cronenberg’s dark horror satire Infinity Pool. (Photo: Neon/Courtesy Everett Collection) Like father, like son....

Entertainment5 hours ago

The Last of Us officially renewed for season 2, and gamers know what that means

We haven’t heard the last of The Last of Us. HBO has officially renewed the post-apocalyptic drama starring Pedro Pascal...

Entertainment6 hours ago

Jay Leno’s very bad week: He breaks several bones in motorcycle crash as CNBC cancels ‘Jay Leno’s Garage’

Jay Leno broke his ribs in a motorcycle accident; days later, CNBC announced it canceled the late night legend’s show...

Entertainment6 hours ago

‘Shrinking’ star Jason Segel never thought mental illness was stigmatized: ‘I’ve asked for help so many times in my life’

Jason Segel in Shrinking (Photo: Apple TV+) Jason Segel readily admits he gets typecast for a very specific role: “Your...

Advertisement

Latest Sports

Sports35 mins ago

‘We got it out’: Jack Edwards reveals what he said in apology to Pat Maroon

The Bruins broadcaster apologized to Maroon face to face ahead of Thursday's game in Tampa.

Sports1 hour ago

NFL Would You Rather? Which home favorite would you rather bet?

Breaking down the NFL's two conference championship games.

Sports2 hours ago

Nick Bosa receives perfect one-word assessment from Eagles’ Jordan Mailata

The Eagles know what to expect from Nick Bosa and the 49ers' defense on Sunday in the NFC Championship Game...

Sports2 hours ago

Kyle Shanahan’s Brock Purdy anecdote sums up 49ers’ rookie philosophy

Brock Purdy is the 49ers' perfect example of how rookies should approach their first year in the NFL.

Sports2 hours ago

Statement from Steve Wilks’ lawyer is also a warning to the Cardinals on Brian Flores

The statement came swiftly from lawyer Doug Wigdor. And it should be regarded by Cardinals owner Michael Bidwill as a...

Sports3 hours ago

NFL Conference Championship Stats Notebook: One key matchup will determine the winner of 49ers-Eagles

Fantasy football analyst Matt Harmon breaks down four noteworthy numbers ahead of the NFL championship round.

Sports3 hours ago

Warren Sapp says Bears are trading Justin Fields to draft Bryce Young

How on earth would Warren Sapp know if the Chicago Bears are trading Justin Fields?

Sports4 hours ago

NBA second generation: Boozer twins, Bronny James and others carving their own paths

Yahoo Sports takes a look at 10 current high school players who come from an NBA family and how they're...

Technology Hot News

Technology1 week ago

Led by "Amazon" and "Microsoft" .. the technology giants are planning to lay off 64,000 employees

After 10 years of driving the stock market bull run, big tech companies are racing to downsize staff to adapt...

Technology1 week ago

Apple introduces MacBooks with new M2 processors

Yesterday, Tuesday, Apple unveiled MacBooks powered by the new, faster “M2 Pro” and “M2 Max” processor chips, in a surprise...

Technology1 week ago

All you need to know about the upcoming Galaxy S23 phones from Samsung

Samsung has officially announced that the (Galaxy Unpacked 2023) event will be held this year on Wednesday, February 1, which...

Technology1 week ago

FTX Exchange Announces Hacking and Stolen $415 Million in Cryptocurrency

Bankrupt American cryptocurrency firm FTX announced today, Wednesday, that $415 million in cryptocurrency has been hacked and stolen from the...

Technology1 week ago

Because of a "fraudulent tweet"… Elon Musk's trial begins

Elon Musk's trial began Tuesday in San Francisco with the selection of jury members who will have to decide whether...

Technology1 week ago

An electric spoon replaces salt and spices, but with conditions

Experts have developed an electric spoon that is able to replace spices and flavors and affect the taste buds in...

Technology2 weeks ago

The biggest dangers of using tracking devices.. so you can escape?

If you spot an unknown Bluetooth tagging device, there are ways to disable the device so it can't track your...

Technology2 weeks ago

New Twitter.. For You tab to web version

The Twitter platform announced that it will bring the new tab (For You), which launched last Tuesday for iPhones and...

Advertisement