Pres. Biden signs executive order that would allow Medicaid to pay for out-of-state abortions

Kansas election: Voters rejected amendment in first direct test for abortion rights at ballot box

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Thursday, August 4, 2022
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President Biden signed an executive order that would allow Medicaid to pay for abortion services for people traveling out of state for procedures.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- President Biden has signed an executive order that would allow Medicaid to pay for abortion services for people who have to travel out of state to undergo the procedure.

The move comes one day after a surprising victory in Kansas for abortion rights.

Voters there overwhelmingly chose to preserve the right to an abortion.

It was a big victory for abortion rights advocates in an unlikely state, in what was the first direct test at the ballot box on where voters stand on abortion rights.

People in conservative Kansas rejected a constitutional amendment that may have opened the door to an abortion ban.

RELATED: Kansas abortion amendment fails, voters protect abortion rights, block path to ban

"The vote in Kansas has demonstrated what we have known for many weeks years that Americans are pro-choice," said Brigid Leahy, VP of public policy for Planned Parenthood of Illinois.

Planned Parenthood of Illinois and advocates across the country hope to capitalize on the Kansas vote in the fall elections, but Illinois Right to Life Executive Director Amy Gehrke believes the referendum was not accurately explained to Kansas voters.

"I don't believe the voters of Kansas really understood exactly what they were voting for or against with this, and arise awakening when they see how extreme their laws will become," Gehrke said.

Following Tuesday night's abortion rights victory, President Biden signed an executive order Wednesday, paving the way for Medicaid to pay for abortion services for patients traveling from a state where the procedure is illegal to a state where it's legal, like Illinois.

At Planned Parenthood of Illinois' 17 health centers across the state, calls have doubled since Roe vs Wade was overturned.

"We have, in the first month, I think booked over 100 out-of-state patients to come to Illinois for abortions," Lahey said. "This is a significant increase."

While Planned Parenthood has increased staff to meet the need, there are wait times at its Southern Illinois clinic.

In the meantime, Illinois Right to Life continues its fight.

"Our job as a movement is to make abortion unthinkable, to let women know there are so many resources for them if they do choose life for their babies," Gehrke said.

It will be all hands on deck for both sides of the abortion debate as the issue will be on the ballot box in at least four other states in November, including Michigan.