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Women Demand 'Bold' Counter-Offensive to Assault on Abortion Access

Amid Planned Parenthood debate, women's health groups urge lawmakers to repeal "indefensible" restrictions on abortion funding

The Hyde Amendment "was created because low-income women were seen as easy targets, and it has persisted because of a pernicious disregard for the needs of low-income people." (Photo: Texas Tribune)

Amid a renewed attack against Planned Parenthood by right-wing lawmakers, reproductive rights advocates took the offensive on Wednesday by calling for an end to the Hyde Amendment, which has prevented taxpayer money from contributing to abortion services for nearly 40 years.

A slew of progressive organizations on Wednesday marked the 39th anniversary of Hyde Amendment's initial passage by urging Congress to approve new legislation, known as the EACH Woman Act, introduced by Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) in July, which would lift current federal restrictions on abortion coverage—a crucial step in making it affordable for low-income women, who are less likely to have access to basic health care.

"Today marks another shameful anniversary of the Hyde Amendment," said Jessica González-Rojas, executive director of the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health (NLIRH). "We must never forget that Hyde was created because low-income women were seen as easy targets, and it has persisted because of a pernicious disregard for the needs of low-income people."

In addition to the NLIRH, several other organizations—including the Ms. Foundation for Women, the National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum, and URGE—also took the occasion to endorse All* Above All, a coalition fighting for the cause.

"Thanks to the Hyde Amendment, the right to choose for many women—including those who are enrolled in Medicaid, members of the military, in federal prisons and detention centers and government employees—is at the discretion of individual states; leaving them with little to no access to reproductive health services," said Ms. Foundation president and CEO Teresa C. Younger.

"The Hyde Amendment affects the access to reproductive health services of all women but most severely women of color, low-income, migrant and LGBTQI women," Younger said. "We are urging lawmakers to recognize that reproductive care and the right to choose goes far behind the legal rights established in Roe v. Wade. It requires that women actually have access to exercise their legal rights."

Progressive advocacy group The Action Network said on Wednesday, "Segregating abortion from other forms of basic health care is dangerous, sexist, and indefensible. The right to abortion is meaningless if people can't afford it."

The EACH Woman Act is "an important step toward dignity and equality for women," The Action Network said.

On Twitter, advocates heralded the message under the hashtag #BeBoldEndHyde.

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