House Democrats Plan to Repeal Hyde Amendment Next Year, Allow Federal Funding of Abortion - Are You In Favor?
Do you support eliminating the Hyde Amendment to let federal Medicaid dollars pay for abortions?
by Causes | 8.31.20
What’s the story?
- House Democrats are signalling that they will be pushing to repeal the Hyde Amendment, which restricts federal dollars from funding abortions in most cases, by excluding the provision from annual spending bills starting next year.
- Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), who chairs the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Health and Human Services (HHS) and is in the running to replace retiring Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY) as chair of the full appropriations committee, offered the following statement after her subcommittee included Hyde Amendment provisions in this year’s funding bill:
“Although this year’s bill includes it, let me be clear, we will fight to remove the Hyde Amendment to ensure that women of color and all women have access to the reproductive health they deserve.”
- Rep. Diana DeGette (D-CO), a co-chair of the House Pro-Choice Caucus, told the Los Angeles Times that more than 200 House Democrats at present support repealing the Hyde Amendment, and that she hopes Democrats will have a majority of the House (at least 218 votes) by next year.
- The bid to try to repeal the Hyde Amendment comes as leading Democrats change their perspectives on the policy, which has enjoyed bipartisan support sufficient enough to be enacted annually for 44 years. A spokesman for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said that with regard to the Hyde Amendment’s future, “The House will work its will.” Former Vice President Joe Biden, the Democratic presidential nominee, reversed his decades-long support of the Hyde Amendment in 2019 and now supports its repeal.
What is the Hyde Amendment?
- Introduced by Rep. Henry Hyde (R-IL) in 1976, three years after the Supreme Court’s landmark decisions on abortion rights in Roe v. Wade and in Doe v. Bolton, the Hyde Amendment prohibits the use of federal Medicaid funding to provide abortions except in cases when the abortion is sought to protect the life of the mother.
- The Hyde Amendment was first adopted in 1976 as part of the annual Dept. of Health and Human Services (HHS) funding package and restricted federal Medicaid funding. The provision has been reenacted annually since then, but the language has evolved over the years.
- As it applies currently, the Hyde Amendment includes exceptions for abortions in cases where the pregnancy was the result of rape or incest in addition to those intended to protect the mother’s long-term health.
- The Hyde Amendment and similar state-level bills have survived legal challenges that reached the Supreme Court, which held that there is no statutory or constitutional requirement that the federal government or states fund either elective or medically-necessary abortions.
What’s the outlook for repealing the Hyde Amendment?
- If House Democrats retain their majority in the next Congress and have the 218 votes the Pro-Choice Caucus is pushing for, it will trigger a showdown over the Hyde Amendment provisions.
- Whether Senate Republicans keep their majority or end up in the minority, they will in all likelihood have at least 41 votes to deny Democrats the 60 votes needed to advance the legislation.
- Such an impasse could derail broader funding negotiations, risking a partial government shutdown, or it could prompt a Democratic Senate majority to attempt to eliminate the legislative filibuster so they can advance a bill repealing the Hyde Amendment on a simple majority vote.
— Eric Revell
(Photo Credit: Nancy Pelosi via Flickr / Creative Commons)
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