HHS secretary details department’s efforts to protect reproductive health care

Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra held a press conference today to share the department’s plans as the changing abortion care landscape unfolds in courthouses from the country.1

During the conference, Becerra detailed how the department will protect access to medical abortion and protect the safety of women traveling out of state for abortion care. The conference was held in response to President Joe Biden’s directive on Friday that called on HHS to act on the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v Wade.2

Becerra began the press conference by recalling that federal law requires government programs to provide medical abortions in limited circumstances (mother’s life, rape or incest), emphasizing that government agencies must continue to provide these services.

He ordered the Civil Rights Office to protect the privacy and non-discrimination of patients seeking abortion care and providers.

HHS, Becerra said, will review its authority under the Emergency Medical Treatment Act to ensure the clinical judgment of hospitals and abortion care providers is supported. All HHS agencies will also ensure that abortion care providers, including pharmacists and clinicians, have adequate training and resources to meet family planning needs, such as referral and counseling. patient education.

“Health care is a matter for patients and their providers, not politicians,” Becerra said, urging the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to pursue all legally available measures to protect family planning care and access to contraception.

HHS plans to provide guidance to providers regarding medical abortion and will work with the Attorney General and Department of Justice to prohibit states from banning it.

Becerra visited a Planned Parenthood clinic in St. Louis, Missouri, Friday morning when the decision was announced, where he saw the clinic director turn away patients almost immediately. “People in the room were visibly shaken, there were tears and an unshakeable sense of sadness,” he said.

Across Illinois state lines, abortion care was still legal. “It was shocking that in the United States of America a short drive could make such a serious and drastic difference in health care outcomes,” he said. “The impact was visible and real.”

“We will do everything within the legal limits of the law to reach patients and support providers,” Becerra said at the end of the conference. “I am with you and I support you.”

References

  1. President Biden’s remarks on the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. wave | The White House. The White House. Published June 24, 2022. Accessed June 28, 2022. https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/speeches-remarks/2022/06/24/remarks-by-president-biden-on-the-supreme- court-decision-to-cancel-roe-v-wade/
  2. Secretary Xavier Becerra’s remarks during the press conference in response to President Biden’s directive following the overthrow of Roe v. Wade. HHS.gov. Published June 28, 2022. Accessed June 28, 2022. https://www.hhs.gov/about/news/2022/06/28/remarks-by-secretary-xavier-becerra-at-the-press-conference- in-response-to-the-directive-of-president-bidens-following-al-cancellation-of-roe-v-wade.html

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