As the Hyde Amendment Turns Forty, Center for Reproductive Rights Continues to Call for Repeal

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As the Hyde Amendment Turns Forty, Center for Reproductive Rights Continues to Call for Repeal

40 years since passage of dangerous and discriminatory Hyde Amendment coincides with new national poll showing voters support lifting abortion coverage bans

WASHINGTON - Just three months after successfully challenging a sweeping Texas law designed to shut down most of the state’s abortion clinics with medically unnecessary restrictions, the Center for Reproductive Rights is calling for repeal of the Hyde Amendment and all bans on insurance coverage for abortion.  Today marks 40 years since passage of the harmful and discriminatory Hyde Amendment—a federal prohibition on Medicaid and Medicare recipients using their health insurance to access safe and legal abortion care except in extremely limited circumstances. 

New polling data released earlier this month from All* Above All and Hart Research Associates shows that three in four battleground voters agree that politicians should not be allowed to deny a woman's health coverage for it just because she's poor. 

“It’s shameful that millions of women in this country have been denied access to safe and legal abortion simply because they can’t afford it,” said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights. 

“For four decades, a woman’s bank account has determined whether she can get the health care she needs when she’s made the decision to end a pregnancy.  That’s discrimination, plain and simple—with women of color often bearing the brunt of this cruel ban.  We will continue to fight for the day when the Hyde Amendment is repealed, alongside all the unnecessary barriers women still face when they need safe and legal abortion services.”

The House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice held a hearing just last week which focused on the Hyde Amendment.  The Center for Reproductive Rights submitted testimony calling upon the subcommittee and Congress to reject the Hyde Amendment and hold a hearing on H.R. 2972, the EACH Woman Act—a federal measure introduced in 2015 which would put an end to the Hyde Amendment and ensure all people have access to health insurance coverage for abortion services, no matter how much money they have, how they obtain their insurance, or where they live.  The Center also joined over 60 other leading women’s health organizations in calling for the repeal of the Hyde Amendment in a letter submitted to the committee last week. 

Today’s anniversary also comes less than three months after the U.S. Supreme Court issued its historic ruling in Whole Woman’s Health vHellerstedt—the most significant abortion-related ruling from the Court in more than two decades. While the Court struck down two attacks on women’s access to abortion, the Hyde Amendment continues to keep access out of reach for low-income women.

The Hyde Amendment:  Dangerous and Discriminatory

The Hyde Amendment, first enacted in 1976, currently prohibits women with Medicaid and Medicare from using their coverage to pay for abortion care except in the extremely limited cases of rape, incest, or life endangerment. If states wish to cover abortion beyond these narrow exceptions, they must pay the entire cost with state funds. Currently, 17 states use their own funds to cover additional abortion services for low-income women.

In response to the long-standing discriminatory bans on health care coverage for abortion, reproductive justice, health, and rights organizations launched a bold new campaign, All* Above All, to build support for lifting bans on abortion coverage that disproportionally harm low-income women and communities of color.

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The Center for Reproductive Rights uses the law to advance reproductive freedom as a fundamental human right that all governments are legally obligated to protect, respect, and fulfill.

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