President Biden issued an Executive Order on Protecting Access to Reproductive Health Services in response to the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. In the Dobbs decision, the Supreme Court ruled that the US Constitution does not prohibit states from restricting or prohibiting abortion. Biden’s order directs the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to submit a report within 30 days detailing potential actions to protect and expand access to abortion and the full range of abortion services. reproductive health care. These services would include emergency contraception.
The order further directs the United States Attorney General and the United States Department of Homeland Security to consider all available measures to ensure the safety of those accessing and providing reproductive health and related services. Likewise, the Federal Trade Commission should consider actions that would protect the privacy of individuals seeking information about reproductive health services.
Biden’s executive order also addresses the privacy rights of patients, providers and others who provide reproductive health services. The order directs HHS to consider providing guidance, including HIPAA guidance, to protect sensitive health information and preserve patient-provider confidentiality regarding reproductive health services. HHS should also focus on ways to educate consumers about what they can do to protect their health privacy and the sharing of health information.
The decree also creates an inter-agency working group on access to reproductive health care, with the explicit goal of protecting and enhancing women’s access to reproductive health services.
In response to Biden’s executive order, HHS has already issued guidance on HIPAA privacy protections for reproductive health care. This guide also outlines consumer best practices for protecting health information when using personal cell phones and tablets.