A reporter confronted White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre on Wednesday over President Joe Biden’s executive order on abortion access.
Eternal Word Television Network Washington correspondent Owen Jensen argued the newly signed executive order violates the beliefs of pro-life Americans, as it directs Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Xavier Becerra consider having Medicaid fund travel expenses for women traveling across state lines for an abortion.
“Why does the president want to force pro-life Americans, including Catholics, which he is one, to subsidize abortions?” he asked.
“Federal law makes clear [that] doctors must provide emergency medical care, including abortion services to subsidize women facing life-threatening conditions,” Jean-Pierre said. “We are working to ensure that pregnant women whose life and lives are in serious jeopardy receive the care that they need. This is what it is. This is what we’re trying to do. This is what the president promised that he would do.”
The press secretary said the executive order provides exceptions for medical providers with particular religious or moral beliefs to opt out of performing an abortion.
Jensen then suggested the executive order will violate the Hyde Amendment, a legislative provision blocking federal funds for abortions except in cases of rape, incest, or the life and health of the mother. This prevents the funding of abortion under Medicaid, Medicare, the Children’s Insurance Program and the Indian Health Service. (RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: 48 Senate Republicans Tell Schumer They Will Block Any Bill Undermining Hyde Amendment)
“On the proposal to have Medicaid fund travel expenses for women seeking abortion, how would that not violate Hyde if it’s using taxpayer dollars to pay for abortions?” he asked.
“This EO will not violate the Hyde Amendment, it is law, and we follow the law here,” Jean-Pierre said.
It has remained unclear what costs Medicaid is allowed to cover under the new executive order, given that the Hyde Amendment prevents federal funding for abortion.
The order follows the president’s first executive order surrounding abortion July 8, which established “an Interagency Task Force” to help craft policies to combat the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, and to provide assistance for legal protection for out-of-state patients. It also directs Becerra to expand access to abortion, including medication.