President Biden has strongly and publicly opposed SB 8, a new Texas law that effectively limits abortions after six weeks from conception. In the wake of the law’s passage, Biden attempted to direct all resources he could towards counteracting the law, including a controversial directive for the Department of Justice to file lawsuits against Texas.
The HHS has answered Biden’s call to arms with a wide range of resources and options to “bolster” access to safe and legal abortions in Texas.
“Every American deserves access to health care no matter where they live – including access to safe and legal abortions,” HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra said in a press release Friday. “Now, in response to President Biden’s directive, HHS is taking actions to support and protect both patients and providers from this dangerous attack on Texans’ health care.
“Today we are making clear that doctors and hospitals have an obligation under federal law to make medical decisions regarding when it’s appropriate to treat their patients,” Becerra continued. “And we are telling doctors and others involved in the provision of abortion care, that we have your back.”
New HHS directives will take the form of grant support for clinics, resources for protections for health care personnel and reinforcement of legal protections for pregnant individuals or persons experiencing “pregnancy loss.”
The boldest initiative is seemingly “gotcha” use of the Conscience Protections for Health Care Providers, which has been used to protect health care workers from discrimination for objecting to perform an abortion, sterilization or other procedure on religious or moral grounds – instead now saying that, likewise, a health care worker is protected from discrimination because they performed any such operation.
Texas’ new abortion law enables private citizens to bring a civil lawsuit against an abortionist, or someone who aids and abets abortion, if the abortion provider detected the unborn baby’s heartbeat before carrying out the procedure, or if they refuse to check for a heartbeat after roughly six weeks’ gestation.
Many abortion activists have condemned the law as effectively overturning the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, since many women often do not realize they are pregnant until they pass six weeks’ gestation.
S.B. 8 came into effect on Sept. 1 after the Supreme Court voted 5-4 to deny an emergency appeal from abortion providers and others to sideline the law while appeals are made. The judges suggested that their order likely isn’t the last word on whether the law can stand.
Fox News’ Tyler O’Neil contributed to this report.