Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Renewed Support to Be Bold and End Hyde

Atlantic (Oct. 3, 2016): Democrats Are Pushing to Use Tax Dollars for Abortions, by Emma Green:

Since 1976, the Hyde Amendment has prohibited the use of federal funds to pay for abortions.  This means that women who rely on Medicaid and other government health programs do not have medical coverage for abortions. 

Fundamentally, Hyde is about poor women; it only affects those who use Medicaid as their health insurance. Because poor women in the United States are disproportionately women of color, Hyde largely affects women in these groups.

Hyde “has always been understood as a compromise,” said Khiara Bridges, a professor of law at Boston University. “It allows pro-choice folks to be happy because women—‘women’ being read as ‘wealthier women’—to have access to purchasing these services in the market.” At the same time, “anti-choice folks are happy because nobody has to pay for it.”

This year there is renewed political interest and support for ending Hyde's prohibition on federal funding for abortions.  Repeal of Hyde is part of the 2016 Democratic presidential platform.  Reproductive justice activists are spearheading a campaign using the tagline Be Bold.  End Hyde.  And last summer, Congresswoman Barbara Lee introduced the EACH Woman Act, which would effectively repeal the Hyde Amendment.  The Act has substantial support, but not enough to pass unless additional supporters are elected to the House and Senate in November.

Even if the prospect of repealing Hyde is unlikely, pro-choice scholars see it as a victory that legislators and advocates are talking about it at all. “I’m actually surprised, to be completely honest with you, about the recent attention that’s been paid to the Hyde Amendment,” said Bridges. “Part of the reason why Hyde has not been as visible … as a subject of political debate is because there hasn’t been any organizing around it. … Those organizations that fight for reproductive rights tend to be led by women with privilege, who aren’t impacted by Medicaid restrictions.”

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