The Hyde Amendment
President Biden has proposed a federal budget for FY 2022 that does not include the Hyde Amendment.
What is the Hyde Amendment?
The Hyde amendment is a provision that has been in the federal budget since 1976. Added in the wake of the landmark Roe v Wade case, it weakens the Roe’s national protection over abortion by prohibiting federal dollars from paying for abortion care. This prevents many people from using their health insurance to cover their abortion care, including those with Medicaid and Medicare insurance, federal employees, people in federal prison, Peace Corps volunteers and Indigenous people who receive healthcare at Indian Health Services centers. The cost of a medication abortion without insurance is an average of $535 up to 9 weeks and from there can rise to over $3000 depending on the state of residency and the method used (from The Guttmacher Institute and The Cut). This targeted legislation therefore places an undue financial burden on young people, people of color, and immigrants. Fundamentally, it sets up a two-tiered system of reproductive health care: people with private insurance plans are cared for, and those with public insurance (and the other groups mentioned above) may not be able to pay for the care they need.
How did this happen and how does it impact us now?
This article from the Chicago Tribune provides a timeline of the Hyde Amendment’s legislative history and its effects:
Read more about abortion barriers, costs, and trends in this fact sheet:
Why did President Biden reverse his position on the Hyde Amendment?
Until his presidential candidacy in 2019, President Joe Biden was a supporter of the Hyde Amendment, referencing his Catholicism. During his campaign, as every prominent Democratic candidate including now Vice President Kamala Harris vocally opposed the Hyde Amendment, he reversed his position because he said it was impossible to support a national health care plan and the Hyde Amendment at the same time.
For more on President Biden’s history with the Hyde Amendment:
This article from the Los Angeles Times discusses the effects of a federal budget without the Hyde Amendment.
The advocacy work of primarily Women of Color at organizations such as All Above All, a non-profit that campaigns for reproductive health justice causes, has also created pressure on President Biden to follow through on his campaign promise. All Above All created a week-long push to compel the President to exclude the Hyde Amendment during the second week of May. Their movement now includes advocating for the Equal Access to Abortion Coverage (EACH) Act recently sponsored by Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) that negates the Hyde Amendment and expands protection for federally funded abortion.
Interested in learning more about All Above All’s campaign for President Biden to exclude the Hyde Amendment?
Find a brief fact sheet about the EACH act here from All Above All:
Read the full text of the EACH Act here:
And off to the House it went!
On July 29, 2021 the House passed a budget that did NOT include the Hyde Amendment. This is the first time in decades that a budget has been passed by the House that does not include this Amendment.
Read more here:
What Happens Now?
Now the budget heads to the Senate- an even larger challenge for approval. The budget will need 60 votes to pass, which means that Republicans will also have to vote for this bill. To put that in context, every single House Republican voted against the bill. Regardless of the outcome, this is a huge step towards eradicating the Hyde Amendment, shifting the conversation around abortion amongst lawmakers, and providing more accessible reproductive care!
This article discusses Biden’s decision to omit the Hyde Amendment in the context of increasing legislation targeting abortion rights:
This article from the Guardian lays out the impact of the All Above All campaign on the omission of the Hyde Amendment and discusses the possible future of the federal budget:
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