Anti-abortion Lawmakers Try—and Fail—to Co-opt Emergency Covid-19 Relief Package

03.19.2020

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Anti-abortion members of Congress again chose to play politics with women’s health care—this time by trying to hold up critical emergency funding for Covid-19 relief to expand the reach of the Hyde Amendment.   

Their efforts failed when both houses passed the relief bill without it. In a coronavirus rescue package that would include paid sick leave and free virus testing, the anti-abortion members tried to insert language to expand the reach of the Hyde Amendment, which restricts the use of federal funds for abortion care. 

“We’re thankful that lawmakers rejected this political ploy and prioritized the needs of the people in this country by passing this relief bill to address our public health emergency,” said Susan Inman, director of federal policy and advocacy at the Center for Reproductive Rights. Inman added, “Co-opting and delaying this emergency funding in an attempt to add a ban on abortion coverage shows just how far anti-abortion politicians will go to push their agenda. At this time especially, our lawmakers should be expanding access to health care, not restricting it.” 

The Center has long opposed the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits Medicaid and Medicare recipients from using their health insurance to access abortion care except in extremely limited circumstances. First passed in 1976, this discriminatory policy has had a severely disproportionate impact on those who already face significant barriers to health care, such as low-income women, immigrant women, young people, and women of color. 

The Center supports the EACH Woman Act, initially introduced in 2015, which would prohibit the type of political interference attempted here and ensure that all people have access to health insurance coverage for abortion services, no matter what their income, zip code or insurance plan.