U.S. Department of HHS secretary reveals action plan to protect women’s access to reproductive health care in response to SCOTUS decision

Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra speaks about actions the Biden administration plans to take in response to the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, Tuesday, June 28, 2022, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky) (Patrick Semansky, Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra held a press conference on Tuesday to announce an action plan in response to the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.

The action plan was unveiled under President Biden’s direction. Becerra announced the launch of HHS’ Reproductive Access Task Force to plan for every action necessary to protect women’s access to reproductive health care.

This launch follows Biden’s Friday announcement on action plans that he is taking to ensure medication abortion is available and easily accessible, and that women can travel safely from states where abortion is banned to states where abortion is legal.

Here are the following action plans HHS is taking:

  • Federal law requires HHS programs to provide medication abortion in limited circumstances, including the life of the mother, rape, or incest.
  • All federally-supported programs and services are complying and providing this under the law.
  • Becerra is directing the Office for Civil Rights within HHS to ensure patient privacy and nondiscrimination for patients seeking reproductive health care, as well as for providers who offer reproductive health care.
  • Becerra is directing the department to examine its authority under the Emergency Medical Treatment Act (EMTALA) to ensure that the clinical judgment of doctors and hospitals is supported in treating pregnant patients, including those experiencing pregnancy loss or complications, and reaffirming that abortion care can be appropriate to stabilize patients.
  • Becerra is directing all agencies in my Department to work to ensure that all providers – from doctors to pharmacists -- and clinics have appropriate training and resources to handle family planning needs, including administering patient referrals for care and helping patients navigate this new reality.
  • Becerra is directing the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to take every legally available step to protect family planning care, including emergency contraceptives and long-acting reversible contraceptives, such as IUDs. Becerra said health care is a matter to be decided by patients and their providers, not politicians. As part of these efforts, Becerra said they will make clear that family planning providers are able to participate in the Medicaid program. These clinics provide safe care and have vast expertise in providing reproductive health care.

HHS Reproductive Access Task Force will report to Becerra on additional ways to ensure appropriate information about, access to, and coverage for sexual and reproductive health care – as well as coordinate with other federal agencies.

Watch the announcement below:

About the Author:

Award-winning journalist, mother, YouTuber, social media guru, millennial, mentor, storyteller, University of Houston alumna and Houston-native.