On Wednesday, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will put up a new regulation that would protect privacy and prevent prosecution of those who seek abortions.
The new rule proposal comes as White House Interagency Taskforce on Reproductive Rights Meeting is scheduled by Vice President Kamala Harris. Additionally present will be Xavier Becerra, secretary of health and human services, and attorney general Merrick Garland.
Senior administration officials gave reporters a sneak peek at the Biden administration’s proposed regulatory notice, which was released in response to a Texas federal judge’s ruling late last week that the US Food and medication Administration had approved the abortion medication mifepristone.
At the clinic, a patient gets ready to take mifepristone, the first medication used in a medical abortion 13 January 2023 at the Women’s Reproductive Clinic of New Mexico in Santa Teresa.
“This NPRM specifically proposes to strengthen privacy protections by prohibiting the use or disclosure of protected health information by regulated entities, such as health insurance plans, providers, and others, particularly for criminal, civil, or administrative investigations into a proceeding against an individual in connection with seeking, receiving, providing, or facilitating reproductive health care when that health care is legal under the circumstances.
The senior administration official called it a “step forward” from existing guidance issued following last summer’s US Supreme Court ruling that Roe v. Wade and ended abortion rights nationwide. The current policy, which is still in effect, protects HIPAA’s privacy rights by not requiring the disclosure of patient information in certain circumstances. But officials said they found some vendors would still “get scared” to follow directions if subpoenaed.
This proposed rule, they said, further covers providers “not to provide that information if it doesn’t serve the purpose articulated in the role.”
The U.S. Department of Education is also issuing guidance to remind over 20,000 school officials of their obligations to protect student privacy, among other new administrative efforts, according to a White House statement.