WASHINGTON — Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (CT-03), Chair of the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee, held a hearing today to examine the Hyde Amendment, a legislative rider originally included in the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies spending bill in fiscal year 1976.
The Hyde Amendment denies Medicaid coverage on abortion. Through the Subcommittee Members’ questions and witness testimony, the hearing, titled The Impact on Women Seeking an Abortion but are Denied Because of an Inability to Pay, shed light on how the Hyde Amendment has been used to deny coverage for federal employees and their dependents, military service members, Native Americans, Peace Corps volunteers, immigrants, and residents of Washington, D.C. The harm of this denial of coverage falls hardest on people struggling financially, who are more likely to be women of color, young women, immigrants, and LGBTQ people.
“This global pandemic has put a spotlight on policies rooted in inequity, and the Hyde Amendment is no exception,” said Congresswoman Katherine Clark. “1 in 3 jobs held by women have been designated as essential, and women are the sole or co-breadwinner in two-thirds of families with children. Yet, Hyde prevents women in poverty and many women of color from having autonomy over their bodies and stability in their lives. Our path to rebuilding a stronger, more inclusive America must include repealing this dangerous and discriminatory policy.”
“The Hyde Amendment is a discriminatory policy,” said Congresswoman DeLauro. “For more than 40 years, it has been routinely extended — every year as a legislative rider — but the time has come in this current moment to reckon with the norm, with the status quo, and view it through the lens of how it impacts communities of color. Now is the time to ensure that women of color and all women have access to the reproductive health they deserve. I thank my colleagues and our witnesses for joining me in holding this hearing and taking this critical first step in ending the inclusion of this policy in federal spending legislation.”
“I commend Chair DeLauro for holding this hearing to discuss the harmful impact of the Hyde Amendment,” said House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita M. Lowey. “We don’t talk about what federal policies mean for a woman sitting in a doctor’s office, in fear of the risks to her own health or financial security. We don’t talk enough about how to help her. The truth is, that woman has been discriminated against by the laws of her country, just because of her income. That this continues to happen in 2020 is a disgrace.”
“For too long, the racist and discriminatory Hyde Amendment has restricted access to reproductive care for low-income women and women of color. Access to reproductive care should never depend on your zip code or income,” said Congresswoman Barbara Lee. “Repealing the Hyde Amendment is long overdue, and a critical step toward racial justice. I’m appreciative of Chairwoman DeLauro’s leadership to ensure women everywhere have access to coverage for all pregnancy-related health care, including abortion.”
“Today’s necessary hearing proves once again that the Hyde Amendment is a blatant to attempt to deny communities of color and low-income communities’ access to reproductive healthcare,” said Congressman Mark Pocan. “For over 40 years, the discriminatory Hyde Amendment has prohibited people who receive their health insurance through the federal government—including those on Medicaid, Medicare, members of the military, indigenous people, and those who are incarcerated or in ICE Custody—from receiving coverage for an abortion. The EACH Woman Act is a necessary step forward to affirm that abortions are necessary healthcare, and no one should be denied coverage because of their zip code or paycheck. The time to end the Hyde Amendment is now.”
“Women, not their elected officials, should be fully in charge of their reproductive health,” said Congresswoman Lois Frankel. “The Hyde Amendment disproportionately endangers low-income women and women of color who bear the brunt of the burden when states impose their own abortion restrictions.”
“The Hyde Amendment boils down to a tax on women who cannot afford private health insurance, and it hits women of color especially hard,” said Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman. “When we talk about the need to correct systemic racism, it includes policies like Hyde. This rule takes basic decisions these women should be able to make about their health away from them purely because of how they get their healthcare; it says to them that it’s not their doctor or themselves, but a body overwhelmingly made up of white men that knows best. We have to stop denying these women the level of care that any other American can get, and that they too deserve. I’m grateful to Chairwoman-elect DeLauro for elevating this issue.”
“Black and Brown women are disproportionately likely to be insured through Medicaid and therefore subject to the Hyde Amendment’s restrictions,” said Dr. Herminia Palacio, CEO and President of the Guttmacher Institute. “In 2018, 31% of Black women and 27% of Hispanic women aged 15–44 are enrolled in Medicaid, compared with 16% of White women. These Medicaid enrollment patterns are themselves the legacy of oppressive laws and policies too expansive to cover in this testimony; I will only note that the evidence linking structural racism to social and economic inequality is abundant. As our country undergoes a racial reckoning, I want to be clear: The Hyde Amendment is a racist policy.”
“The Hyde Amendment denies my patients the ability to make decisions about their bodies and their pregnancies entirely because of where they live and how much money they make,” Jamila Perritt, President and CEO of Physicians for Reproductive Health. “More than 177,000 people in the District are federal employees, 7.56 percent of the federal workforce, and are unable to access this essential coverage because they get their health insurance through the government… For the patients I care for, many of whom are living paycheck to paycheck, the cost of reproductive health care and additional expenses such as childcare, transportation, and time away from work can be insurmountable, making access to care impossible.”
“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,” said Amanda Beatriz Williams, Executive Director of the Lilith Fund for Reproductive Equity. “Unfortunately, that’s exactly what Congress has done for the last 44 years through the Hyde Amendment. Across the country, the Hyde Amendment has had devastating impacts for people unable to make ends meet — who are more likely to be women of color — LGBTQ people, immigrants, and young people. And for too many, coverage bans like the Hyde Amendment can act as defacto bans on abortion altogether.”