Abortion

I didn't write about the Kansas abortion ban amendment vote back in August, but I should have:

Voters in Kansas rejected a proposed state constitutional amendment Tuesday that would have said there was no right to an abortion in the state, according to The Associated Press.

Kansas was the first state to vote on abortion rights since the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson's Women's Health Organization.

President Joe Biden hailed Tuesday's vote and called on Congress to pass a law to restore nationwide abortion rights that were provided by Roe.

"This vote makes clear what we know: the majority of Americans agree that women should have access to abortion and should have the right to make their own health care decisions," Biden said in a statement.

The statewide abortion ban ballot proposal, in a fairly solidly red state, ended up failing by a massive 18 points, with 544,000 voting against it and only 378,00 in favor of it.

And yes, that's literally how the headline is worded in the official press release (via email, no link yet):

Statement by HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra on House Republicans Introducing Legislation to Rip Away Women’s Access to Contraception and Abortion Medication

Today, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra released the following statement on House Republicans introducing legislation to deny women essential medications:

“Denying women the care they need is un-American—in fact, it’s dangerous. That sums up the latest move in Congress to try to take away women’s access to prescription medication for reproductive health. Under federal law, patients have the right to access the health care they need, free of discrimination. The Biden-Harris Administration will vigorously advance and protect women's rights to essential health care. We won’t hesitate to enforce the law.”

Below is a summary of the actions HHS has taken to ensure access to reproductive health care following the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization Supreme Court decision:

via the White House website:

President 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:

Via the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services:

Today, following President Biden’s Executive Order on ensuring access to reproductive health care, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), alongside the Departments of Labor and of the Treasury (Departments), took action to clarify protections for birth control coverage under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Under the ACA, most private health plans are required to provide birth control and family planning counseling at no additional cost.

via the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services:

  • Awards to 36 grantees support President Biden’s Executive Orders on Strengthening Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act, and represent the largest outreach and enrollment investment ever made through Connecting Kids to Coverage program.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), today awarded $49 million to organizations on the frontlines of reducing uninsured rates and connecting more children, parents, and families to health care coverage. In support of President Biden’s Executive Orders on Strengthening Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act, and HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra’s priority of expanding access to affordable, quality health care, these awards represent the largest investment CMS has ever made in outreach and enrollment through the Connecting Kids to Coverage program. 

CMS Logo

Via the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services:

Today, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced new guidance and communication to ensure all patients — including pregnant women and others experiencing pregnancy loss — have access to the full rights and protections for emergency medical care afforded under the law. This announcement follows President Biden’s executive order on reproductive health issued Friday.

This was actually issued a few days ago but I'm running behind this week...

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, it is hereby ordered as follows:

Section 1.  Policy.  Nearly 50 years ago, Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973), articulated the United States Constitution’s protection of women’s fundamental right to make reproductive healthcare decisions.  These deeply private decisions should not be subject to government interference.  Yet today, fundamental rights — to privacy, autonomy, freedom, and equality — have been denied to millions of women across the country.

I have little to add to the discussion this morning, so I'll just repost this tweet by a Wall St. Journal health reporter:

Almost half the states have laws in place or at the ready to curtail or outlaw abortion, including 13 states with trigger laws in place that will ban it immediately.

— Alex Janin (@AlexLJanin) June 24, 2022

America is in a very, very dark place right now.

I originally wrote about this issue back in 2017.

As explained in this Health Affairs article by Katie Keith and Timothy Jost:

The final Senate compromise, which was adopted as part of the ACA, largely reinforces the Hyde Amendment, which has been included in annual Congressional appropriations legislation since the 1970s and prohibits the use of federal funds for abortion services unless the pregnancy is a result of rape or incest, or would endanger the woman’s life (non-Hyde abortions).

The ACA allows the coverage of abortion services through the marketplaces but includes a number of restrictions and requirements that insurers must follow before covering non-Hyde abortions. Many, though not all, of these restrictions are outlined in Section 1303 of the ACA, which includes specific rules related to the coverage of abortion services by Qualified Health Plans (QHPs) and has been the subject of previous litigation. In particular, Section 1303:

Pages

Advertisement