President Joe Biden‘s latest executive order allowing Medicaid funds to be used to facilitate travel for women seeking abortions in states where the procedure is still legal is in violation of the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits the federal financing of abortion.

The order will assist the acquisition of “reproductive health care for women who live in states where abortions are banned,” Biden said at the first meeting of the Interagency Task Force on Reproductive Healthcare Access on Wednesday.

He claimed it also “advances research and data collection to evaluate the impact of this reproductive health crisis on maternal health” and will protect access to contraception.

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 White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said the order “will cover care that is otherwise part of Medicaid,” including “abortion care in certain circumstances, as accepted by the Hyde Amendment.”

Jean-Pierre also said that the Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade was an “unconstitutional action.”

What is the Hyde Amendment?

The Hyde Amendment is a legislative provision barring the use of federal funds to pay for abortion, except to save the life of the woman, or if the pregnancy arises from incest or rape.

Before the Hyde Amendment took effect in 1980, an estimated 300,000 abortions were performed annually using federal funds.

Sixteen states have the policy to use their own Medicaid funds to pay for abortion beyond the Hyde Amendment requirements. An estimated 20% of abortions are paid for through Medicaid.

In the aftermath of the Supreme Courts decision on the Roe vs Wade case, many women are being refused prescriptions for other conditions, such as epilepsy, because the medicine “could cause a miscarriage,” Biden alleged.

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While campaigning during the 2020 presidential election, Biden called for the removal of the Hyde Amendment from congressional appropriations bills.

The Hyde Amendment currently affects people in 34 states and the District of Columbia. It leaves 7.8 million women aged 15–49 with Medicaid coverage but without abortion coverage.