A group of House Democrats introduced a bill Thursday to guarantee abortion coverage not dependent on someone’s insurance or income and to end the “discriminatory” Hyde Amendment.
Res. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), Diana DeGette (D-Colo.), Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) and Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) introduced the Equal Access to Abortion Coverage in Healthcare (EACH) Act on Thursday to make abortion access more accessible. If passed, the bill would require government sponsored health programs, like Medicaid, to provide coverage of abortion services.
The Hyde Amendment bans the use of federal funds for abortions in most cases, and has been in place since the mid-1970s. If the new bill passes, it would abolish the Hyde Amendment and eliminate abortion coverage restrictions for those who rely on government sponsored health plans, including Medicaid.
Opponents of the Hyde Amendment say that it impacts mostly women of color and low-income women because it forces those on government health programs to pay out of pocket for abortion services. In 2021, the Pro-Choice Caucus called on President Biden to remove abortion fund restrictions, like the Hyde Amendment, from the budget.
“The Hyde Amendment is blatantly racist and classist, and keeping it in place is yet another attempt by extremist, out-of-touch Republicans to strip people of this country of their reproductive freedom,” Lee said in a statement. “For over 40 years, Hyde has forced poor women who are denied insurance coverage for abortions to carry pregnancies to term or pay for care when they’re already struggling to make ends meet.”
Lee and DeGette are the co-chairs of the Pro-Choice Caucus in the House. Lee has previously called on Congress to abolish the Hyde Amendment, saying that it restricts access largely for low-income women and women of color.
“With extreme abortion laws in place in half the country, it is more critical than ever that we fight to make abortion accessible wherever possible,” Lee continued. “It is past time for our policies to ensure everyone can get the health care they need without shame, punishment, or financial ruin. It is time to take a step forward, not back. It is time to repeal Hyde once and for all.”
According to the bill, 25 percent of women covered by Medicaid seeking abortion services are forced to carry their pregnancies to term because they do not have the funds for the care.
“Our bodily autonomy is under attack nationwide and the racist and discriminatory Hyde Amendment is yet another barrier preventing millions from accessing safe and legal abortion care – particularly our Black, brown, low-income, and other marginalized communities,” Pressley, the chair of the Pro-Choice Caucus Abortion Rights and Access Task Force, said in the statement.