Members of the U.S. House of Representatives passed a federal spending bill last week without the Hyde Amendment, a policy that has prohibited coverage of abortion care for people insured through federal health insurance programs, including Medicaid, since 1976.
The historic move is a step toward ensuring that people working to make ends meet and receiving their medical insurance or health care through the federal government would be covered for abortion care—as they are with other health care. The spending bill also omits a ban on insurance coverage of abortion care for residents of Washington, D.C.
The spending bill was part of an appropriations package of 12 bills that passed in the U.S. House by a 219-208 vote. It’s now up to the U.S. Senate to pass the bill. In May, President Joseph Biden submitted a federal budget omitting the Hyde Amendment.
On July 29, 2021, Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, said this in a statement:
Today, for the first time in more than 40 years, the House of Representatives passed an appropriations bill free from the Hyde amendment and related restrictions on coverage of abortion care, including the Weldon amendment. We’re grateful to the House Appropriations Committee, under the leadership of Chairwoman Rosa DeLauro, for fighting to finally keep these bills free from such restrictions. For decades, these kinds of coverage bans have denied insurance coverage of abortion for people working to make ends meet. This is an important step toward ensuring that everyone has access to abortion, which is a human right. This historic step would not have been possible without the leadership of women of color, who have been organizing in their communities and educating elected leaders for years on the impact of this policy and why it must be eliminated.
The Hyde Amendment denies coverage of abortion care under Medicaid and pushes that care out of reach for people who are struggling financially—people who are more likely to be women of color, young, immigrants, and members of the LGBTQ+ community.
The newly passed bill also omits the Weldon Amendment—which allows U.S. health care entities to refuse to cover, provide, pay for, or refer someone for an abortion, and it is one of several refusal of care provisions that prioritize health care providers’ personal beliefs over patient care.
Restricting Medicaid coverage of abortion care has forced one in four women living on low incomes to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term, according to the Guttmacher Institute. Women who are unable to access wanted abortion care are more likely to fall into poverty and more likely to experience intimate partner violence.
The Center for Reproductive Rights is part of a coalition, led by All* Above All, of more than 100 organizations advocating for the elimination of the Hyde Amendment and related abortion coverage bans—and in support of the Equal Access to Abortion Coverage in Health Insurance (EACH) Act, a federal bill to ensure that every person who receives health care or insurance through the federal government would have coverage for abortion care.
Earlier in the week, the House passed a separate spending bill—dealing with foreign assistance and the State Department—free of the Helms Amendment, a decades-old policy that prevents millions of people across the globe from accessing critical abortion care and limits their ability to make the reproductive decisions that are best for themselves and their families.
- Biden’s Proposal to Lift Hyde Amendment Is a Step Toward Allowing Abortion Coverage for Medicaid Recipients, 06.03.21
- EACH Act Would Remove Major Economic Barriers to Abortion Access in the U.S., 03.25.21
- In New Testimony, Center Urges Congress to End Harmful Hyde Amendment, 12.08.2020
- On Hyde Amendment’s 44th Anniversary, Center and Allies Call for its End, 09.25.2020