The President’s budget was released today, and while there are a lot of good things in it, a major piece is missing. Disappointingly, the President didn’t use his last budget to express his opposition to the Hyde Amendment.
The “Hyde Amendment” is a restriction Congress passes every year that denies women enrolled in Medicaid coverage of abortion except when the woman’s life is in danger, or where the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest. Singling out abortion services for exclusion from federal health care plans interferes with reproductive health decisions and disproportionately affects low-income women, young women and women of color.
The President has previously said that his budget sets out his vision for how to reduce inequality. Ending the discriminatory and harmful Hyde Amendment fits into that vision. In fact, the very intent of the Hyde Amendment is to deny low-income women abortions. Rep. Henry Hyde (the Amendment’s namesake) made this crystal clear: “I certainly would like to prevent, if I could legally, anybody having an abortion, a rich woman, a middle-class woman, or a poor woman. Unfortunately, the only vehicle available is the…Medicaid bill.”
Inequality. Rep. Henry Hyde was taking advantage of inequality in this country to advance his own anti-abortion views. This is wrong. And it has to end.
So while the President failed to take the opportunity to oppose the Hyde Amendment, that doesn’t mean we won’t take ours.
There is a growing movement to lift the Hyde Amendment. In fact, last year saw the introduction of groundbreaking legislation, the EACH Woman Act (which has 111 cosponsors!). This bill would lift the Hyde Amendment and similar provisions that restrict coverage of abortion in federal health care programs. Even more, the Hyde Amendment is currently part of public debate about which direction our country should be moving. This is a good thing because it gives us more opportunities to highlight just how harmful it is to deny women insurance coverage of abortion.
We remain committed to fighting for the day when all women have health coverage for abortion. This day, tomorrow, and every day thereafter.