In August, the Supreme Court declined to block a new Texas law that prevents women from seeking abortions, even in cases of rape and incest. As activists continue to fight the law and the courts continue to debate it, the Biden administration described steps they’re taking to protect those seeking abortions in one of the country’s most anti-abortion states.
HHS announces new actions to 'bolster access' to abortions in Texas after restrictive law: The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has announced a plan to make available new resources to "protect reproductive health" in the face of the new Texas abortion law. pic.twitter.com/R6PEHqTcU6
— King Tri-Zi (@KingTriZi) September 17, 2021
The office of Health and Human Services under the Biden administration offered a three-pronged approach to the new law to protect women, healthcare providers, and family planning services during this crisis in reproductive health services.
A statement from HHS Secretary Xavier Becerrasaid said that:
‘Every American deserves access to health care no matter where they live – including access to safe and legal abortions. For decades, both in Congress and as California’s Attorney General, I’ve stood with women in the fight for reproductive justice and access to care under Roe vs. Wade. Now, in response to President Biden’s directive, HHS is taking actions to support and protect both patients and providers from this dangerous attack on Texans’ health care. Today we are making clear that doctors and hospitals have an obligation under federal law to make medical decisions regarding when it’s appropriate to treat their patients. And we are telling doctors and others involved in the provision of abortion care, that we have your back.’
NEW: The Biden administration said that in light of a new Texas anti-abortion measure, it will fortify enforcement of existing federal laws requiring hospitals to take care of pregnant people and protect health-care workers. https://t.co/NMAZm67nUC
— Bloomberg Law (@BLaw) September 17, 2021
The first step presented including increased funding for the organization that distributes Title X grants, Every Body, Texas. whose goals are to improve access and quality to sexual and reproductive health care in Texas. The Biden administration committed to an additional $10 million in funding to meet the increased needs for reproductive health access for Texas women.
‘Last week, Title X grantees received nearly $19 million to support expansion of family planning services. HHS Office for Population Affairs (OPA) will award additional funding to Every Body Texas, a current Title X family planning grantee, to respond to the anticipated increase in clients’ needs for emergency contraception and family planning services. Second, OPA plans to award up to $10 million in grants to expand access to emergency contraception and family planning services to any Title X services eligible applicant that can demonstrate a need resulting from an influx of clients as a result of SB 8 as well as states around the country with increased needs overall.’
"We are telling doctors and others involved in the provision of abortion care that we have your back.” 👏🏻👏🏽👏🏿
— National Partnership (@NPWF) September 17, 2021
Further steps will be taken to protect healthcare workers from discrimination, which is already illegal under current federal law, and to enforce laws around emergency medical services while ensuring that Texas women have the access they need to reproductive healthcare.
‘The HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR) enforces the Church Amendments, which protect health care personnel from employment discrimination who object to performing abortion, sterilization, and biomedical or behavioral research activities because of their religious beliefs or moral convictions. This law also protects health care personnel from discrimination related to their employment because they performed or assisted with a lawful abortion. Today’s guidance outlines protections that prohibit recipients of grants, loans, contracts, or loan guarantees under the Public Health Service Act from discriminating in the employment, promotion, or termination of employment of any physician or other health care personnel because the individual performed or assisted in the performance of an abortion. OCR can receive complains from individuals who believe they may have been discriminated against in violation of the Church Amendments.’
— Cheryl de Boissiere (@priscilagural) September 17, 2021