resident Biden will issue an Executive Order on Securing Access to Reproductive and Other Healthcare Services, building on actions that the Biden-Harris Administration has taken to protect access to reproductive healthcare services and defend women’s fundamental rights. The President kick off the Vice President’s first meeting of the Task Force on Reproductive Healthcare Access. At the meeting, the Cabinet will discuss their progress and the path forward to address the women’s health crisis in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.
EXECUTIVE ORDER ON SECURING ACCESS TO REPRODUCTIVE AND OTHER HEALTHCARE SERVICES
Through today’s Executive Order, the President will announce actions to:
Support Patients Traveling Out of State for Medical Care. The Executive Order directs the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to consider action to advance access to reproductive healthcare services, including through Medicaid for patients who travel out of state for reproductive healthcare services. This directive is in line with the President and the Attorney General’s clear statements on the Administration’s commitment to defending the bedrock right to travel across state lines to seek reproductive healthcare in states where those services remain legal.
Ensure Health Care Providers Comply with Federal Non-Discrimination Law. The Executive Order directs the Secretary of HHS to consider all appropriate actions to ensure health care providers comply with Federal non-discrimination laws so that women receive medically necessary care without delay. These actions could include providing technical assistance for health care providers who may be confused or unsure of their obligations in the aftermath of the Supreme Court decision in Dobbs; convening providers to convey information on their obligations and the potential consequences of non-compliance; and issuing additional guidance or taking other appropriate action in response to any complaints or reports of non-compliance with federal non-discrimination laws.
Promote Research and Data Collection on Maternal Health Outcomes. To accurately measure the impact that diminishing access to reproductive health care services has on women’s health, the Executive Order directs the Secretary of HHS to evaluate and improve research, data collection, and data analysis efforts at the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on maternal health and other health outcomes.
INTERAGENCY TASK FORCE ON REPRODUCTIVE HEALTHCARE ACCESS
The President will sign the Executive Order at the first meeting of the interagency Task Force on Reproductive Healthcare Access. After the President signs the Executive Order, Cabinet heads will report on the progress they have made in implementing the President’s July 8, 2022 Executive Order on Protecting Access to Reproductive Healthcare Services, as well as related actions to defend reproductive rights.
Established by Executive Order, the Task Force on Reproductive Healthcare Access is co-chaired by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, Xavier Becerra, and the Director of the White House Gender Policy Council, Jennifer Klein. The Task Force coordinates and drives efforts across the Federal government to protect access to reproductive healthcare services and defend reproductive rights.
Offices across the White House – including the Office of the Vice President, the Office of White House Counsel, the Domestic Policy Council, the National Economic Council, the National Security Council, the Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, and the Office of Science and Technology Policy –also serve on the Task Force alongside the following Federal agencies:
Department of Health and Human Services
Department of Defense
Department of Education
Department of Homeland Security
Department of Justice
Department of Labor
Department of the Treasury
Department of Transportation
Department of Veterans Affairs
Federal Communications Commission
Federal Trade Commission
Office of Management and Budget
Office of Personnel Management
TODAY’S ANNOUNCEMENTS BUILD ON ADMINISTRATION’S ACTIONS TO PROTECT ACCESS TO REPRODUCTIVE HEALTHCARE
Today’s announcements build on the actions the Biden-Harris Administration has already taken to protect access to healthcare, including abortion and contraception, in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.
President Biden continues to call on Congress to codify the right to abortion into federal law and has said he would support changing the filibuster rules to codify Roe v. Wade into law. The White House has also released Statements of Administration Policy supporting H.R. 8296 – Women’s Health Protection Act of 2022 and H.R. 8297 – Ensuring Access to Abortion Act of 2022.
The Administration has also taken immediate action to:
Protect Access to Reproductive Healthcare Services: The President issued an Executive Order outlining actions to safeguard access to reproductive health care services, including abortion and contraception; protect the privacy of patients and their access to accurate information; promote the safety and security of patients, providers, and clinics; and coordinate the implementation of Federal efforts.
Defend the Right to Travel: On 6/24/22, President Biden reaffirmed the Attorney General’s statement that women must remain free to travel safely to another state to seek the care they need. President Biden committed his administration to defending “that bedrock right.” Today’s actions build upon this commitment and direct HHS to explore supports for women traveling out of state to seek medical care.
Protect Emergency Medical Care: DOJ filed a lawsuit seeking to enjoin Idaho’s abortion prohibition, which makes abortion a crime even when necessary to prevent serious risks to the health of pregnant patients. The suit asserts that Idaho’s law conflicts with, and is therefore preempted by, the Emergency Medical Treatment Active Labor Act (EMTALA), which requires providers to offer stabilizing treatment, including abortion services if necessary, in certain emergency situations. This litigation follows guidance issued by HHS affirming EMTALA’s requirements, as well as a letter from Secretary Becerra to providers making clear that federal law preempts state law restricting access to abortion in emergency situations.
Strengthen Nondiscrimination in Healthcare. HHS announced a proposed rule to strengthen nondiscrimination in health care. The proposed rule implements Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act and affirms protections consistent with President Biden’s executive orders on nondiscrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
Issue Guidance to Retail Pharmacies. HHS issued guidance to roughly 60,000 U.S. retail pharmacies to remind them of their obligations under federal civil rights laws to ensure access to comprehensive reproductive health care services. The guidance makes clear that as recipients of federal financial assistance, pharmacies are prohibited under law from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, age, and disability in their programs and activities. This includes supplying medications; making determinations regarding the suitability of a prescribed medication for a patient; and advising patients about medications and how to take them.
Take Action Against Illegal Use and Sharing of Sensitive Data. The Federal Trade Commission committed to fully enforcing the law against illegal use and sharing of highly sensitive data, including location and health information contained in fertility and period tracking data. The FTC urged companies to consider that sensitive data is protected by numerous state and federal laws, claims that data is “anonymous” are often deceptive, and the FTC has a track record of cracking down on companies that misuse consumer data.
Protect Patient Privacy under HIPAA. HHS issued guidance to address how the HIPAA Privacy Rule protects the privacy of individuals’ protected health information, including information related to reproductive health care. The guidance helps ensure doctors and other medical providers and health plans know that, with limited exceptions, they are not required – and in many cases, are not permitted – to disclose patients’ private information, including to law enforcement. HHS also issued a how-to guide for consumers on steps they can take to make sure they’re protecting their personal data on mobile apps.
Request Information on Data Privacy from Mobile Providers. The Federal Communications Commission Chairwoman wrote to the top 15 mobile providers requesting information about their data retention and data privacy policies and general practices, consistent with the President’s commitment to protecting Americans’ privacy.
Launch a DOJ Reproductive Rights Task Force: The DOJ announced a Reproductive Rights Task Force, which will monitor and evaluate state and local actions that infringe on federal protections relating to the provision or pursuit of reproductive care, impair women’s ability to seek reproductive care where it’s legal, impair individuals’ ability to inform and counsel each other about the reproductive care that is available in other states, ban medication abortion, or impose criminal or civil liability on federal employees who provide legal reproductive health services.
Convene Attorneys to Defend Reproductive Rights. The Department of Justice and the Office of White House Counsel convened more than 200 lawyers and advocates from private firms, bar associations, legal aid organizations, reproductive rights groups, and law schools across the country on Friday, July 29 for the first convening of pro-bono attorneys, as called for in the Executive Order. The convening closed with a call to action from the Second Gentleman, urging firms to commit a minimum of 500 hours to defending reproductive rights and justice.
Provide Access to Accurate Information and Legal Resources. HHS launched ReproductiveRights.gov, a website on people’s right to access reproductive health care, including birth control, abortion services, other preventive health services, and health insurance coverage. DOJ also launched justice.gov/reproductive-rights, awebpage that provides a centralized online resource of the Department’s work to protect access to reproductive healthcare services.
Ann Arbor, Mich. – After photos surfaced of University of Michigan (UM) football players petting, feeding, and posing with a bear cub at Oswald’s Bear Ranch—a notorious roadside zoo in the Upper Peninsula that tears baby bears away from their mothers and charges people to have their photo taken with them—PETA sent a letter today to UM Head Football Coach Jim Harbaugh, who appears in photos with Oswald’s owner, alerting him to the facility’s history of bear cub deaths and calling on him to pledge never to bring the Wolverines to another roadside zoo.
PETA notes that even though nearly 80% of the bears Oswald’s has acquired in the last 25 years were bred in captivity and then taken from their mothers to be exploited for photo ops, the roadside zoo regularly misleads the public by marketing itself as a rescue facility. Seventeen cubs 2 years old or younger have died on Oswald’s watch, including two who died last year when they were only a few months old and another who was killed by police in 2019 after escaping from the facility, which was ordered to pay a $2,400 civil penalty to settle a federal complaint that its owners had lied about the circumstances surrounding the cub’s death. According to Michigan law, this penalty means that Oswald’s can’t offer cub petting until at least 2026—but it continues to do so.
“Kind Michigan football fans will be horrified to hear that their team visited Oswald’s Bear Ranch, which tears bear families apart and locks cubs up in a concrete prison,” says PETA Foundation Director of Captive Animal Welfare Debbie Metzler. “PETA is calling on Coach Harbaugh to keep the Wolverines away from roadside zoos and to join us in calling for the bears at Oswald’s to be transferred to reputable sanctuaries.”
A new video narrated by Alec Baldwin exposes the suffering behind cub-petting “encounters,” targeting Oswald’s and other roadside zoos. Once bears become too big to be handled, Oswald’s moves them to enclosures in which they’ve exhibited behavior that signals mental distress in bears—such as head-tossing and pacing back and forth—as has been captured on video. Oswald’s has also been cited for allowing a cub to injure a guest and for endangering children by permitting them to hand-feed cubs.
PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to use for entertainment or abuse in any other way”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. For more information, please visit PETA.org or follow the group on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.
NEW YORK/PORT-AU-PRINCE, JULY 29, 2022—Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) teams at the emergency center in Turgeau in Port-au Prince, Haiti have treated almost 80 people with gunshot wounds—mainly from stray bullets—since last weekend. This is the result of escalating fighting between armed groups that has spread to new areas of the capital, said the international medical humanitarian organization on Friday.
This most recent wave of violence follows the fighting that broke out in the Cité Soleil neighborhood of Port-au-Prince earlier this month, leaving thousands of people trapped without drinking water, food, or medical care.
“These 80 patients only represent a small number of the victims,” said Rachelle Seguin, medical coordinator for MSF in Haiti. “Moving around has become extremely dangerous in several areas of the city. Many people are trapped in their neighborhoods. This has made access to health care very difficult. MSF is organizing mobile clinics to reach the people who can’t move, but even our medical teams face difficulties; at least three times, our mobile clinics had to be postponed or cancelled because of the fighting.”
In the neighborhood of Cité Soleil, an MSF mobile clinic reached the area during a ceasefire. In a few hours, MSF’s medical teams carried out 150 consultations—30 of which were for people with infected wounds, meaning these were old wounds that weren’t treated before. This is likely because the wounded couldn’t get medical help, either because of the intensity of the ongoing fighting or because armed groups have erected roadblocks and barricades. In some areas, MSF can only treat patients in basements or windowless rooms because of the dangers of crossfire and stray bullets.
Since the increase in violence in several areas of Port-au-Prince—whether it’s in Cité Soleil, Martissant, or, most recently, Bel Air, Bas Delmas, and the fringes of the city center—MSF has observed a decrease in outpatient consultations.
“The people of Port-au-Prince must be spared from the violence and must have access to health care and basic services,” said Benoît Vasseur, MSF head of mission in Haiti. “We’re very concerned that the conflict zones in and around the Haitian capital keep spreading.”
All parties involved in the recent clashes must allow aid to enter affected areas, ensure the safety of civilians, and allow people to access health care and basic services, said MSF.
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