Becerra said the department will work to increase access to medical abortion across the country and will work with the department’s Office for Civil Rights to protect the privacy of patients and providers.
HHS will also review the department’s authority in protecting the clinical judgment of health care providers in treating pregnant patients and will work to train family planning clinicians.
Becerra also said the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will “take all legally available steps” to protect access to family planning care.
“There’s no quick fix, but if there’s anything we can do, we’ll find it and we’ll do it at HHS,” Becerra said. “Indeed, that is the instruction I received from the President of the United States.”
Becerra called the decision “despicable” and said it “unduly endangers the lives and health of millions of our fellow Americans.”
“The Supreme Court’s decision will lead to worsening health outcomes and death for some patients. Working to increase access to this medicine (abortion) is a national imperative and in the public interest,” Becerra said.
“Stay tuned” for more on medical abortion
Becerra’s announcement on Tuesday included some concrete new steps to change the landscape of abortion access in a country where abortion rights are no longer guaranteed at the federal level, but the HHS secretary insisted on the fact that his department always aimed to do more.
“You want to make sure what you’re doing is, like I said, within the bounds of the law. We’re not interested in going rogue and doing things just because,” Becerra said. “To all Americans affected, my apologies, as I said, we can’t tell you there’s a magic bullet. But what I’m telling you is, the deeper we dig, we’ll do whatever it takes. what we can with what we find to make sure we protect women’s reproductive health care services.”
The department is currently looking at ways to legally increase access to medical abortion treatment, Becerra said.
“Medical abortion — those treatments that the FDA has approved as safe and effective — can be prescribed. Under what conditions? Stay tuned,” he said.
When asked if the department takes the position that because the pills are approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration, any doctor in the country can prescribe them, Becerra replied that he does not. couldn’t be precise.
“These drugs that can be classified as medical abortion and have received FDA approval as safe and effective are therefore available by prescription. What I won’t do in answering your question is tell you what that means precisely,” he said, adding, “We’re going to stay within the bounds of the law, even if it’s a law that I think puts women’s health at risk, we’ll stay within the bounds of the law.”
HHS considering transportation assistance
Becerra stressed that HHS is looking at “all options” to address abortion access, including transportation assistance for people traveling out of state to have abortions.
He was pressed to know if his department was considering facilitating travel for women who cannot legally have abortions in their home countries, including through travel vouchers, which Vice President Kamala Harris told CNN was under investigation.
“Once we tell you exactly what we think we can do and have the money to do, we’ll let you know. But until then, what I can just tell you is that all options are on the table,” Becerra said. .
Becerra first raised the possibility of transportation at Aspen Ideas: Health on Saturday, where he said, “We’re looking at everything, including transportation assistance, something HHS doesn’t typically do.”