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How A Spending Bill Without The Hyde Amendment Might Change Abortion Access
Abortion

How A Spending Bill Without The Hyde Amendment Might Change Abortion Access


This week, for the first time since the Hyde Amendment was introduced in 1976, the House advanced a spending bill without it, allowing millions more people to access affordable abortion care.

A Democratic-controlled House subcommittee voted Monday to advance President Joe Biden's spending bill for the Department of Health and Human Services without the contentious amendment, marking the first time in more than four decades that a provision prohibiting the use of federal funds for most abortions a rule that has made abortion inaccessible to the millions of women who receive health-care coverage has been removed from the bill.

The bill now goes to the House Appropriations Committee, which is expected to give it approval and move it forward to a full House vote. While Senate approval is unlikely, pro-choice activists are celebrating the House development.

“This is a historic victory for reproductive freedom, and this moment has been decades in the making,” Adrienne Kimmell, acting president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, said in a statement. “We extend our heartfelt gratitude to our partners in the reproductive justice movement, as well as the women of color who have led the fight to end these harmful bans on coverage of abortion care.”

The Hyde Amendment has disproportionately harmed women of color, particularly Black and Latinx women, who are more likely to be on Medicaid, a joint federal and state program for low-income individuals on which 2 in 10 women of reproductive age rely for coverage. According to a 2014 study, the majority of people seeking abortions are also low-income, Black, Latinx, or in their teens and 20s.

Given those statistics, House Appropriations Committee Chair Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) said in a statement that keeping the status quo on the HHS spending bill is unconscionable.

“I understand that this is an issue on which many of us disagree, but regardless of Hyde’s original intent, it has disproportionately impacted women of color, leading to more unintended pregnancies and later, riskier, and more expensive abortions,” she said in a statement.

“Quite frankly, allowing the Hyde Amendment to remain on the books is a disservice not only to our constituents but also to the values that we espouse as a nation,” she went on to say.

Between the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973 and the Hyde Amendment's implementation in 1980, Medicaid covered the cost of approximately 300,000 abortions each year. Today, both critics and supporters of the amendment agree that it has significantly reduced abortion access among Medicaid patients.

“This means that in U.S. states that do not fund abortion through Medicaid, one out of every nine people born to a Medicaid-eligible mother owes his or her life to the Hyde Amendment,” the Charlotte Lozier Institute lauded in its report.

While the provision allows states to fund abortions themselves, only 16 do so.

Rhetoric surrounding the Hyde Amendment has shifted rapidly in recent years, with now-President Biden rescinding his long-standing support for the policy while on the campaign trail in 2019. The then-senator, like many Democrats in the 1980s and 1990s, singled out abortion from other medical needs as an inappropriate use of government funds.

In order to secure their support for his legislation, Obama appeased GOP lawmakers by signing an executive order maintaining the rule against federal abortion funding, outraging pro-choice supporters in the process.

Today, there is much less disagreement among Democrats about the problems with the Hyde Amendment, but the party's razor-thin Senate majority makes passing this version of the HHS spending pill a pipe dream. Sen. Joe Manchin, a Democrat from West Virginia, said last month that he will go against his colleagues and support the Hyde Amendment in "every way possible."

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