In New Testimony, Center Urges Congress to End Harmful Hyde Amendment

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U.S. House of Representatives holds virtual hearing on anti-abortion policy that delays and blocks abortion access

12.08.2020

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Today, the U.S. House of Representatives held a virtual hearing on the harms caused by the Hyde Amendment, a policy that denies coverage of abortion care for people insured through Medicaid and other federal programs.

The Center for Reproductive Rights submitted testimony for the record outlining the many reasons Congress must eliminate the Hyde Amendment. The testimony states:

Access to health care, including abortion, is a human right. Every person has the right to make their own decisions about having children regardless of their circumstances and without interference and discrimination. Abortion coverage bans like the Hyde Amendment are intentionally designed to put abortion care out of reach, especially for people struggling financially and those who are insured through the federal government. This particularly affects communities who are subjected to systemic racism and other forms of discrimination, and whose access to health care is already tenuous due to these barriers...

Eliminating the Hyde Amendment...works hand-in-hand with bills such as the EACH Woman Act (S.758/ H.R. 1692), a federal bill to eliminate discriminatory coverage restrictions on abortion care, including the Hyde Amendment, and the Women’s Health Protection Act (S.1645/ H.R. 2975), a federal bill to protect the right to access abortion by creating a nationwide safeguard against bans and medically unnecessary restrictions that single out abortion care... Together these bills have the power to transform access to abortion care across the country.

Watch the recorded hearing here to learn more about Hyde and to hear testimony from experts on reproductive health, rights, and justice, including Dr. Herminia Palacio, President and CEO of the Guttmacher Institute; Dr. Jamila Perritt, President and CEO of Physicians for Reproductive Health; and Amanda Beatriz Williams, Executive Director of the Lilith Fund for Reproductive Equity and abortion storyteller at We Testify.

In her testimony, Dr. Palacio pointed out: “The Hyde Amendment has been unjust and harmful from the very beginning. Today, it exists as part of a broader landscape of abortion restrictions that work together to place enormous burdens on people seeking abortion care—burdens that push abortion out of reach.” 

“The patients I care for are making thoughtful, sometimes difficult decisions about their health and well-being and all deserve high quality care,” said Dr. Perritt. “I take care of real people who are not able to get the care they need and deserve because of this discriminatory legislation.”

In calling for the end of Hyde, Williams said: “However any of us feel about abortion, politicians should not be allowed to deny someone’s health coverage for it just because they are struggling to get by.”

The Fight to End Hyde

The Center is part of a broad coalition of organizations, led by All* Above All, working to bring an end to the Hyde Amendment and to pass the EACH Woman Act.

The EACH Woman Act would reverse the Hyde Amendment and related abortion funding restrictions, ensuring that anyone who gets care or insurance coverage through the federal government will be covered for all pregnancy-related care, including abortion.

The Harms of Hyde

For more than 40 years, the Hyde Amendment has denied coverage of abortion care under Medicaid and pushed that care out of reach for people who are struggling financially—people who are more likely to be women of color, young, immigrants, and LGBTQ people.

The consequences are extreme: Restricting Medicaid coverage of abortion care has forced one in four low-income women 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 harmful consequences of Hyde are exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic that has caused job loss, economic insecurity, and worsened health inequalities that disproportionally impact Black, Indigenous, and people of color.

The Hyde Amendment also denies coverage for federal employees and their dependents, military service members, Native Americans, Peace Corps volunteers, immigrants, and residents of Washington, D.C.

Watch the recorded hearing here: The Impact on Women Seeking an Abortion but Are Denied Because of Inability to Pay