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:
Protecting Emergency Medical Care: HHS issued guidance and a letter from Secretary Becerra to reaffirm that the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA, also known as the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act) protects providers when offering legally-mandated, life- or health-saving abortion services as stabilizing care for emergency medical conditions.
- Secretary Becerra and CMS Administrator Brooks-LaSure issued a letter to U.S. governors inviting them to work with CMS and apply for Medicaid 1115 waivers to provide increased access to care for women from states where reproductive rights are under attack and women may be denied medical care. They also underscored that current or proposed abortion restriction laws do not negate providers’ responsibilities to comply with federal laws protecting access to emergency health care.
Safeguarding Information on Health and Rights for Patients and Providers: HHS launched the ReproductiveRights.gov public awareness website, which includes accurate information about reproductive health, including a Know-Your-Rights patient fact sheet to help patients and providers.
Protecting Patients and Providers from Discrimination:
- HHS issued a proposed rule that would strengthen the regulations interpreting the nondiscrimination provision of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and would reinforce that discrimination on the basis of sex includes discrimination on the basis of pregnancy or related conditions.
- HHS issued guidance to roughly 60,000 U.S. retail pharmacies, clarifying their obligations under federal civil rights laws.
Protecting Patient Privacy: HHS issued guidance that clarifies to patients and providers the extent to which federal law and regulations protect individuals’ private medical information when seeking abortion and other forms of reproductive health care, as well as when using apps on smartphones.
Supporting Quality Reproductive Health Care: HHS announced nearly $3 million in new funding to bolster training and technical assistance for the nationwide network of Title X family planning providers.
Protecting Access to Birth Control:
- With the Departments of the Treasury and Labor, we convened a meeting with health insurers and sent them a letter, calling on the industry to commit to meeting their obligations to provide contraceptives as required by the ACA.
- Later, in response to this conversation, we issued guidance to clarify protections for birth control coverage under the ACA. Under the ACA, most private health plans are required to provide birth control and family planning counseling at no additional cost.
HHS has also released a report that the agency prepared for the President on HHS actions taken to-date to ensure access to reproductive health care following the Supreme Court’s ruling, with further details on future actions and commitments. Read the report “Secretary’s Report: Health Care Under Attack: An Action Plan to Protect and Strengthen Reproductive Care.”