U.S. House Passes Bill to Deny Millions of Women Reproductive Health Care Coverage

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(PRESS RELEASE) The U.S. House of Representatives passed a measure today that would deny insurance coverage of abortion care for nearly all women, including the millions who rely on federal insurance plans and state marketplaces.  The measure—which passed by a vote of 238-183—was the key bill being voted on by the House this week.

“It’s particularly shameful that politicians in Congress are voting to restrict a woman’s ability to get basic health care services just three days after millions of women, men, and families mobilized and marched for their rights,” said Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights. 

“In far too many circumstances, a woman’s paycheck determines whether she can get the health care she needs when she has made the decision to end a pregnancy.  For low-income women and women of color, the barriers to care are even more severe.  It’s cynical and cruel that politicians have made it a top priority to further drive safe and legal abortion out of reach for millions more women.

“We call on Congress to abandon this latest attempt to rob women of their rights and focus their efforts on measures which would actually improve the lives of our families and communities.” 

The measure now heads to the Senate.

HR 7—which mirrors an identical measure passed in the House in 2015--would permanently ban abortion coverage for millions of American women, including federal employees, women enrolled in Medicaid, military servicewomen, Peace Corps volunteers, and many others who receive health care and insurance coverage through the federal government. HR 7 would also ban health facilities, including those on military bases, from offering abortion services, and prohibits abortion coverage from being offered in multi-state health insurance plans created under the Affordable Care Act.  All told, millions of women across the country would lose insurance coverage for abortion.

Today’s vote underscores the need for the federal Equal Access to Abortion Coverage in Health Insurance (EACH Woman) Act, a groundbreaking piece of legislation that would ensure all women have access to health insurance coverage for abortion services, no matter how much money they make, what insurance plan they have, or where they live.  Specifically, the EACH Woman Act would put an end to dangerous 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. While Congress must currently act each year to renew this policy, HR 7 makes it permanent.  First passed in 1976, this discriminatory policy has had a severely disproportionate impact on women who already face significant barriers to health care, including abortion services, such as low-income women, immigrant women, young women, and women of color. 

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.  The Center is proud to be a member of this campaign.