Biden signs executive order that ‘paves the way’ for Medicaid to pay for abortions

President Biden signed an executive order Wednesday that would provide for taxpayer-funded abortions. 

“I believe Roe got it right, and it’s been the law for close to 50 years,” the president said at the signing, which he attended virtually due to his COVID-19 diagnosis. “And I commit to the American people we’re doing everything in our power to safeguard access to health care, including the right to choose that women had under Roe v. Wade, which was ripped away by this extreme court.”

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said earlier during her daily briefing that the order “paves the way for Medicaid to pay for abortions for women having to travel out of state.”

The order directs Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra to consider advancing “access to reproductive healthcare services, including through Medicaid for patients who travel out of state for reproductive healthcare services.”

“Secretary Becerra will invite states to apply for Medicaid waivers to allow them to provide reproductive health care to women who live in states where abortions are banned,” she said.

Jean-Pierre said the waivers will pay for the actual abortion procedures, but she had few additional details to offer.

“So it’s the Medicaid waiver, from what I understand – it is for them to pay for abortion procedure,” she said. “And I don’t have the specifics on the travel. We can easily go back, but from what I understand, Medicaid pays for your health care services. So I presume it is for the health care.”

BIDEN TO SIGN SECOND EXECUTIVE ORDER TO EXPAND ABORTION ACCESS

“We’re going to leave it to HHS to come up with the details on the specifics on how they’re going to work with states, if a state asks for a waiver and what that’s going to look like,” she added. “So this is going to be in their purview.”

Reporter Owen Jensen of EWTN, a Catholic news network, asked the press secretary why Biden, a Catholic, wants to force taxpaying Catholics to subsidize abortions. 

“So federal law makes clear doctors must provide women emergency medical care, including abortion services, to stabilize women facing life-threatening conditions,” Jean-Pierre responded. “We are working to ensure that pregnant women whose life and lives are in serious jeopardy receive the care that they need.”

“But under that same federal law, there are exceptions for moral … or religious objections to provide particular medical services. So nothing in today’s EO impacts those exceptions,” she added.

It’s unclear how the order will work, given that the Hyde Amendment prohibits federal tax money from being used to fund abortions. Additionally, all states where abortions have been banned since the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade already provide an exception for abortions to be performed if the mother’s life is in danger, and many provide exceptions for rape and incest.

Jean-Pierre appeared confident that the order does not violate the Hyde Amendment.

“This EO will not violate the Hyde Amendment,” she said. “It is law, and we followed the law here.”

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