WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — The Biden administration’s task force on reproductive healthcare gathered for its first meeting on Wednesday.
President Joe Biden announced and signed a new executive order that will primarily focus on helping low-income women be able to access reproductive healthcare, including abortions.
“Women’s health and lives are on the line,” Biden said.
The announcement came on the heels of Kansas voters rejecting a move towards abortion restrictions in their state.
“Voters are revolting against the extreme MAGA Republican policies,” said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.).
Biden directed the Department of Health and Human Services to consider using Medicaid to offer additional reproductive healthcare benefits.
The White House says waivers could be used to cover travel costs for women looking to go out of state to access reproductive healthcare, but wouldn’t pay for the abortions themselves — unless they’re intended to save a patient’s life or related to rape or incest.
The order also calls for agencies to track how abortion restrictions impact women’s health.
U.S. Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) says abortion is no longer a federal concern.
“It is important to note that with the Dobbs decision, the court sent this issue back to the various states,” she said.
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre stressed that the president is not the only one who needs to take action on the issue.
“He can’t only be the only person working on this right? That’s why we continue to ask Congress to take action,” she said.
Democrats tried to pass a bill by unanimous consent, attempting to provide legal protections for abortion providers, but the effort was struck down by U.S. Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.).
Additionally, a bipartisan group of senators introduced a bill this week that would restore federal abortion access. It would essentially codify Roe v. Wade and allow abortion nationwide up to the point of viability. But it’s unlikely to get the 60 votes it needs to pass in the Senate.