US President - Joe Biden | Credits: Reuters
US President - Joe Biden | Credits: Reuters

Empowering Reproductive Rights: Biden Administration’s Strategic Moves Revealed!

United States: On the 51st anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Biden administration declared on Monday, new steps for the expansion of access to contraception, abortion medication, and emergency abortion care at hospitals.

The Supreme Court’s decision in June 2022 regarding ending the federal protections for abortion rights, is the latest development by the federal government in attempting to preserve abortion access and protect reproductive health care.

Announcement by the government

The announcement regarding the initiatives is expected to be done at the meeting on Monday afternoon in which President Joe Biden along with his Taskforce for Reproductive Healthcare Access will also discuss the personal experiences of physicians who practice in states where abortion was restricted following the overturning of Roe.

Different measures in factor to improve access

To improve access to contraceptives, the administration will institute different measures such as federal agencies issuing guidance that “clarify standards” and ensure Food & Drug Administration (FDA)-approved contraceptive medications are available free under the Affordable Care Act.

Xavier Becerra, the Health and Human Services (HHS) secretary sent letters to different insurers including private companies’ state Medicaid plans, Medicare, and children’s Health Insurance Program providers- to remind them of their duties providing contraceptives to those under their schemes.

Becerra wrote, “As a reminder, plans, and issuers subject to the requirement to cover preventive services must provide the full range of FDA-approved, -cleared or -granted contraceptives (including emergency contraception), effective family planning practices, and sterilization procedures to prevent unintended pregnancy and improve birth outcomes,” reported ABC News.

Visual Representation for people protesting against abortion laws | Credits: Getty Images

Moreover, the Office of Personnel Management will provide fresh guidance to insurers aimed at increasing contraception access for federal employees, retirees, and family members.

The HSS also announced a “comprehensive plan” to enhance awareness and understanding of the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA), passed in 1986, which requires that emergency medical care be administered to those patients in emergency, regardless of ability to pay.

In July 2022, a guidance statement issued by the HHS clarified under the EMTALA, that doctors are required to conduct abortions in the emergency department- even in those states where it is prohibited by state laws, in case the patients require “stabilizing medical treatment” for an emergency medical condition.

The administration’s new initiative will also implement the distribution of resources about the rights of patients and materials for healthcare providers about complying with federal regulations. It is as the Supreme Court will rule on whether abortion care may be offered under EMTALA.

Besides, the Supreme Court is likely to review a lower court’s decision restricting nationwide mifepristone accessibility, which was approved by the FDA in 2000. Mifepristone is one of the two abortion pills.

In the Monday White House announcement, it was also reported that access to mifepristone will be defended before a federal court by the FDA and the Department of Justice.

Kamala Harris, the Vice President is separately starting a series of abortion rights events, beginning in Wisconsin on Monday, where she is expected to condemn a bill tabled by Republicans proposing to limit abortion after 14 weeks.

In a statement made by Biden on Monday, said, “Even as Americans — from Ohio to Kentucky to Michigan to Kansas to California — have resoundingly rejected attempts to limit reproductive freedom, Republican elected officials continue to push for a national ban and devastating new restrictions across the country,” and added further, “On this day and every day, Vice President Harris and I are fighting to protect women’s reproductive freedom,” reported ABC News.

Jen Klein, director of the White House Gender Policy Council said that Biden has been urging Congress to reinstate federal protections for abortion.

she said, “The president has been quite clear since Roe v. Wade was overturned, the ultimate solution is to pass federal national legislation to restore the protections in Roe, and we will continue to work to hope that Congress will pass that legislation so the president can sign it,” ABC News report.

Existing bans in various states in the US

Since the Supreme Court ruling at least sixteen states have stopped almost all abortion services, as per the ABC News tally.

There are also bans in Arizona, Florida, Nebraska North Carolina, and Utah that range from 12 weeks to 18 weeks based on the Guttmacher Institute which is a research group focusing on sexual reproductive rights.