• July 30, 2021

Exclusive: House Democrats advance spending bill to overturn the Hyde Amendment

 Exclusive: House Democrats advance spending bill to overturn the Hyde Amendment

That means federal employees and their families, military personnel and their families, Native Americans, Alaskan Natives, and inmates in federal prisons are forced to pay out of pocket in order to access a safe and legal medical procedure, on top of all the other hurdles so many face in obtaining care. This appropriation bill only affects the programs under HHS—Medicaid, Indian Health Service, Medicare, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program. Kaiser Family Foundation analysis finds that “on average in 2014 an abortion cost between $500 at 10 weeks gestation, while at 20 weeks gestation, costs soared to $1195 or more.”

KFF estimates that, if the ban had been lifted in 2019 “it could have provided federal support for abortion coverage for 13.9 million reproductive-age women enrolled in Medicaid, as well as millions of others in similarly restricted federal programs.” That’s a forced birth mandate on millions of women in 33 states, plus the District of Columbia.

Map showing Hyde abortion restrictions on Medicaid in 33 states

Alexis McGill Johnson, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said in a statement that her organization was “thrilled” that the provision was finally dropped. “For far too long, the racist and sexist Hyde Amendment has put the government in control of a personal health care decision for many people with low incomes. And its extension to our federal prison system is cruel and unjust. Your ZIP code, financial situation, whether you’re incarcerated or the type of health insurance you have should never determine what kind of essential health care services you can access, including abortion,” she wrote.

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

That includes President Biden. “If I believe heath care is a right, as I do, I can no longer support an amendment that makes that right dependent on someone’s zip code,” he said about leaving Hyde out of his budget. “I can’t justify leaving millions of women without access to the care they need and the ability to exercise their constitutionally protected right.”

Unfortunately, that might not hold getting the appropriations bill through the Senate. Sen. Patty Murray, a Washington Democrat who will be responsible for the HHS bill in her committee, probably won’t have the votes to keep the Hyde Amendment out. “Well I support [dropping] it,” she said. “But I have to have the votes and that’s what we’re looking at.” That doesn’t make the fact that the House left it out and that the president left it out any less momentous. It’s bending the curve in the right way.

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